But there are signs of a backlash. For the second consecutive year, the Seattle-based outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI is closing its doors on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It won’t even be processing online sales on Black Friday and is instead giving all 12,287 employees a day off. CEO Jerry Stritzke plans to spend the day hiking on Mount Rainier with his grandson (as he did in 2015) and is suggesting that more of us go outdoors and make memories for ourselves instead of saving a few dollars. Around 1.4 million people pledged to #OptOutside in 2015 and more are expected to do so this year.
Maybe Black Friday started to lose its USP as retailers tried to gain a jump on each other by opening earlier and earlier. 6am Friday became 4am Friday became midnight became…yes, you’ve got it. Open all day Thanksgiving too. As Black Friday now starts a full 24 hours before the day itself, more and more retail sales staff in the US won’t be giving thanks for anything this November 24th.
There’s also the inexorable growth of online sales. Cyber Monday (the one following Thanksgiving weekend) became the day when anyone who hadn’t bagged a bargain on Black Friday could go online to find it there. Unless you’re a true masochist, camping outside a store’s entrance all night in late November loses its appeal when you can get the same deals in the warmth of your home in a couple of clicks.
So Black Friday is not what it was. In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession $50.9billion was spent over the four-day weelend, a drop of around 11% compared with the previous year. That’s not a sign of imminent recession, but of the way that festive gift sales have spread over a longer period. They call it ‘Christmas creep’ and it’s clearly good sense to spread your sales over a longer, more manageable period. Saves on security staff too. You could even give them a day off at Thanksgiving