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James Tenser

Principal
VSN Strategies

Gray Thursday, Black Friday - It's All Green at Retail

November 26, 2012

FROM RETAILWIRE:
The Thanksgiving night openings from Walmart, Target, Toys "R" Us, Sears and others may have taken some sales away from Black Friday results. But traffic was still reported to be up on Black Friday as the Thursday openings helped smooth traffic over the weekend. How do think the early openings and staggered specials supported Black Friday weekend?      [more...]

MY COMMENTARY:

I personally avoid Black Friday shopping like Black Death. So I remain mystified as to why so many Americans participate with such competitive intensity.

The competitive intensity of retailers is much easier to grasp. Pushing the launch time up into Thanksgiving afternoon doesn't make wallets any fatter, but the retailer who attracts the biggest, earliest crowds gets first crack at the spending.

It is ultimately worth it? For a few large chains, there are probably some incremental dollars -- or at least some faster dollars -- captured at the expense of weaker merchants. But there are costs too, associated with extra operating hours, as well some justifiable employee resentment.

Positive over-weekend reports from big operators notwithstanding, it remains to be seen whether early holiday events can actually move the needle for the whole shopping season. I'm a skeptic about that, and my heart bleeds a little bit for the retail workers who would rather have been home on Thanksgiving night.

Staggered deals are another story. I think these have potential to generate sustained excitement without hysteria. Two weeks of mini-doorbusters could provide various shoppers with reasons to visit on different days. Does any retailer we know publish a holiday specials calendar? Could be brilliant.

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