Tag Archives: shopping

Shopping on Black Friday

black friday

The name sounds like a horror movie title or an omen of impending doom, so what does it have to do with shopping? Well, Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving; the day that opens the Christmas shopping season and also one that is traditionally known as having some of the greatest sales in the history of mankind, if you’re lucky to get up early enough and get inside your favorite department store to enjoy them.

Most retail stores open at (gulp) 5:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving in an effort to get a jump on sales that other stores, who don’t open early enough, lose out on. Dedicated shoppers around the United States set their alarms and drag unwilling husbands or kids with them as they get in line before their favorite stores in the dark and wait patiently for those glass doors to slide open. Did you think that people would only line up around the block to see the latest and greatest movies? Try getting up early on the morning after Thanksgiving and you’ll be treated to an eye-opening surprise. Thousands of shoppers, decked out in coats and gloves, brave the cold, the wind, the rain, to get an early start on their Christmas shopping and the best sales of the year.

While this somewhat dubious tradition has been practiced for more decades than many would care to remember, the term ‘Black Friday’ was created in the 1970’s. In the 21st century however, the observation of the day has reached increasingly growing popularity and numbers of participants, perhaps due to the vagaries of inflation, or perhaps due to the trendiness of it all.

The term, Black Friday, has its origins in several factors, and depending on whether you’re speaking to a shopper or a storeowner, you may get different definitions. For retailers, Black Friday designates, as a news broadcast in 1982 stated, “Some merchants label the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday because business today can mean the difference between red ink and black on ledgers…” Others claim that the term refers to the massive amount of shoppers all vying for certain products and the resulting stress and strain makes shopping on such a day a not-so-pleasant experience. Store employees throughout America, who are the ones who must deal with demanding and impatient customers, have seconded that same emotion. However, because of the negative connotations associated with the term, ‘Black Friday’, many merchants throughout the United States have begun to try to rename the day, “Green Friday”, though such efforts have proven to be lukewarm at best. It appears as if the use of the term ‘Black’ in the day will continue for years to come.

Black Friday is usually looked forward to by a massive majority of women shoppers, who have had their eyes on certain items for the months leading up to the Christmas shopping season, and retailers play on such shoppers, often offering limited numbers of popular items to those who are lined up outside, all the while knowing that their supply won’t match demand. Still, once shoppers are inside their stores, they’re bound to purchase something rather than go home empty handed, which makes such schemes a win-win situation for themselves.

And while hundreds of thousands of bargain shoppers wait in lines for those special, one-day-a-year deals, family members that wait for their return at home scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, everyone knows that the busiest shopping day of the year is the Saturday before Christmas.

What Is Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday

The term, ‘Cyber Monday’ was coined back in November of 1995 to describe the vast amount of people who logged online the day after Thanksgiving to do some pre-Christmas shopping. In recent years, the Friday after Thanksgiving, more commonly known these days as Black Friday, has been touted as the busiest shopping day in the year and businesses around the country offer sales and hot deals to encourage shoppers to get up early and spend money in their store, buying their good. Cyber Monday was the result of a clever marketing ploy developed by an association representing online retail stores to give them a sales boost.

Advertising execs promoted the idea that the Monday after Thanksgiving was the absolute best day for online shoppers to get in on specials, and of course, limited deals. Promoting the idea of shopping for Christmas without ever having to leave the house is appealing to many holiday shoppers. So, in essence, Cyber Monday is a direct rebuttal to Black Friday, yet both benefit retailers. Black Friday was so coined because it is the hope of every storeowner that he comes out ahead, or ‘in the black’ for the holiday shopping season. The phrase seemed to stick. Promotions for online shopping hit the media through print, television, and radio and Internet ads, encouraging people to save time and effort with their holiday shopping by purchasing items online. Still, Americans seem to enjoy shopping for the holidays, and the experience of actually going to malls and mingling with people, hearing the Christmas music playing over loudspeakers still draws millions every year. While online shopping may fill a gap here and there in the shopping lists of Americans, online shopping will more than likely never replace the traditional store to store shopping that has been observed and enjoyed by American citizens since the beginnings of our country. While marketing firms and ad companies promote Cyber Monday these days, oddly enough, many retail merchants do not. Special deals and incentives are practically nonexistent with most major online shopping venues.

Cyber Monday is neither a holiday nor a national observed day for most Americans, and it is probable that many aren’t aware of its existence. However, many Americans are, and the rise of Internet users continues to rise, making it very likely that online shopping will also continue to increase. Many Americans who live in rural areas benefit from online shopping, especially when bad weather is added to the mix. However, if online retail stores aren’t willing to offer special deals and incentives to continue to drive traffic to their websites, the major efforts of marketers to promote Cyber Monday will likely go unnoticed.

Cyber Monday is still in its infancy as American holidays go, and while it’s not a holiday in the traditional sense of the word, it does reflect the American consciousness in relation to culture and habits. The dawn of the 21st Century has brought billions of Americans into the cyber-age, willingly or not. Physical retail store owners are more than likely going to have to compete not only for walk in clients, but also to design and launch websites to cater to the needs of internet shoppers, who can be much more demanding than a physical shopper. After all, if an Internet shopper isn’t satisfied with something, they can leave with the click of a mouse. There is no placating a customer when shopping online, and retailers have to remember that when designing promotions for Cyber Monday.

Whether Cyber Monday is an officially recognized day or not, the trend toward Internet shopping will continue to grow exponentially. It would stand to reason that online retail storeowners join in on the move to offer holiday shoppers the best deals around when it comes to kicking off the Christmas shopping season.