Shoppers rush to grab electric griddles and slow cookers on sale for $8 shortly after the doors opened at a J.C. Penney story in this file photo from Las Vegas on November 23, 2012. (Julie Jacobson/The Canadian Press/AP)Jacobson

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Chaotic images of people clamouring to be the first through the doors to get their hands on hot deals have become synonymous with Black Friday in recent years.

However, the one-day shopping frenzy at malls and stores following American Thanksgiving may be on the decline as some consumers and retailers start to shun the tradition by either opting out entirely or turning to internet shopping instead.

“In the ’70s and ’80s if you wanted to distinguish yourself as a company you would participate in this event,” said Markus Giesler of York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

“Today it’s the exact other way around.”

Online fashion retailer ModCloth, for example, announced this year that its website would shut down on Black Friday and the company would donate US$5 million worth of merchandise to a non-profit organization.

“It’s been fun, Black Friday. You had the deals and the steals, but this year we’re looking for the feels,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Outdoor retailer REI, on the other hand, has closed its stores on Black Friday for the past two years, given their employees a paid day off, and encouraged people to partake in a new tradition and head outside instead.

These brands are mimicking a consumer shift away from mass consumption, said Giesler.

Once fringe activist movements like Buy Nothing Day — an anti-consumerism protest held on the same day as Black Friday — have seeped into the mainstream as more people embrace minimalism and choose conscious consumption.

“My neighbours left and right would unsurprisingly now say, ‘You know, we no longer do the mall thing. We no longer do the Black Friday thing,’” said Giesler.

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales in stores in the U.S. were down 4.2 per cent, while foot traffic fell 4.4 per cent, according to data from RetailNext, a retail analytics firm.

Two factors seemed to have altered how people view Black Friday, said JoAndrea Hoegg, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

Sales now last about a week, rather than being a single-day event, she said, and the internet has given consumers the ability to find great deals year round.

“(There) seems to be less of an urgency about the purchases,” she said. “It’s sort of less of a hype that this is the one day of the year — this and Boxing Day — that you can really, you know, get that fantastic deal.”

Still, she believes the shopping spree remains popular, especially online.

American consumers spent US$30.39 billion online between Nov. 1 and 22, according to Adobe Analytics data, which covers 80 per cent of transactions made with the country’s 100 largest e-retailers. That’s up nearly 18 per cent from the same timeframe last year.

As of 5 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving day, the company said Americans already spent nearly 17 per cent more than they did last year, shelling out $1.52 billion online.

For shoppers not interested in the social aspect of Black Friday shopping, online purchases make much more sense, Hoegg said.

“You don’t have to deal with the crowds and the deals are, by and large, just as good.”

Certain industries in particular are experiencing a Black Friday renaissance online, said Giesler, highlighting that technology firms are known to offer “legendary” sales.

Shoppers looking to buy an Amazon Alexa, a Phillips Hue system, a Nest thermostat or other trendy technology, he said, scour the internet for Black Friday deals.

“I may not go for the big-box television flat screen at Best Buy,” Giesler said. “But I may go to Amazon, I may go to Nest or to Ecobee to buy myself a little bit of technology.”

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer up to 4 active COVID-19 cases

Province announced 77 new confirmed cases across Alberta Friday

Cilantro and Chive ‘Dad Bod’ Burger supports childrens mental health in Lacombe

$3,068 was donated to Lacombe Community Addiction and Mental Health Office– Children’s Services

Lacombe Raiders football begins delayed Spring Camp

Football players required to follow guidelines laid out by AHS

46 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Alberta

Province has completed more than 500,000 COVID-19 tests

PODCAST: COVID-19 and the US Election

The Expert welcomes Burman University Political Scientist Marc Froese

PODCAST: The Expert tackles the return of sports

Cam Moon, Joe Whitbread, Byron Hackett and Todd Vaughan discuss how sports can come back

How Conservative leadership hopefuls would address the WE scandal if they win

The ethics commissioner has been called in to see if Trudeau broke conflict-of-interest law

With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

Borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year

Pedestrian-only downtown a hit with residents as St. John’s adapts to pandemic

‘The city really got this right this time. We’re very happy’

Bosnian-Canadians mark 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

‘It’s sad for a child to think that it’s normal, actually, to … have family members killed’

PODCAST: COVID-19 and the US Election

The Expert welcomes Burman University Political Scientist Marc Froese

Sylvan Lake RCMP continue search for missing man

43-year-old Steven Hull’s last known whereabouts were in the Sylvan Lake area on May 28

Most Read