For many American families, it’s become a tradition. After the turkey is over, the game and parades are watched, and the entire family has napped away the effects of stuffing, gravy, and whatever what it was floating in the Jell-O this year it’s time to prepare for the biggest sales day of the year. Sleeping in cars and along the sidewalks of major department stores was just another way for families to bond as they waited for the sales that opened early on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers however, now determined to beat each other to consumer’s wallets are putting on major sales throughout November and some are actually moving their sales to the fourth Thursday of this month. While it’s giving some shoppers and their families a little extra to be thankful for this plan has others worried it will erode the traditional holiday past recognition.
Online business is one of the reasosn that many major retailers will have their doors open on Thanksgiving. Many retailers noted that the day after Black Friday a day that is always hoped to be one the largest sales days of the year has in the last few years become less and less a day to see those customers who actually had the ability to make major purchases. Businesses have found those consumers are turning to online stores more and more to find deals well in advance of Christmas without ever leaving their plates of pumpkin pie behind.
Another reason that retailers such as Walmart might be putting their deals out online earlier this year is the bad press received over the last few years as mobs of customers in a rush for limited offer big sellers at very low prices packed doorways, pushed and shoved, and in several came to blows to reach top Christmas purchases. This lost the retailers some of the very customers, those with disposable income or savings who could make other larger purchases, as these individuals and families sought other less crowded venues for shopping.
The push away from the Black Friday drama began in 2010 with Sears opening its doors for Thanksgiving, followed by Target trying the same selling plan in 2011. This heated up the already competitive marketplace causing others stores intent on gaining more of the Christmas market to also open either on Thanksgiving, or even to open in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Not everyone is excited about the prospect of crowded malls for Thanksgivings as this means that many employees of retail giants will have less time to spend with their own families. Others lament that the heavy commercial aspect of Christmas has taken over another holiday as well.
Retailers however, have good reason to see the season in a different light as surveys and forecasts are showing that the real Scrooge this year might be consumers themselves. Less than 20% are planning on purchasing more than they did in 2012, and many are at least stating they want to opt for less commercial gifts this year. For the retailers this means offering the lure of sales earlier, along with perks for regular visitors in order to keep traffic coming into their stores, rather than seeking other alternatives for the holiday.