Is ‘Black Friday’ Still ‘Black Friday’?

As this article is prepared the date is November 13th, 2018. This morning through the medium of several press releases and received emails, it’s been noted that several retailers – brick & mortar as well as online – are launching their ‘Black Friday’ sales as early as Monday, November 19th. This begs the question as to whether or not ‘Black Friday’ is still Black Friday. If you can get all those deals BEFORE the Friday after Thanksgiving, is Black Friday being diluted to the point of losing its value in the marketing stream?


Back on November 5th, our Editorial Director, Wanda Lenoir, wrote about Christmas Creep.  Excerpted from her article:

Today’s hottest deals are no longer held in check for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) or the following week on Cyber Monday. Retailers now exercise the option to hold Black Friday events any time of the year to create excitement and generate sales. Some home improvement retailers such as Menards also hold Black Friday events in early spring or late July.

Per her article, ‘Black Friday’ is being used throughout the year to push sales. The competition between online outlets and brick & mortar stores is getting hotter than ever before. As a result, the “usual” best business practices often get revised… or ignored.

On the one hand, having earlier sales is welcomed by the consumers because it allows them to get their shopping done earlier each year. (Some folks have been known to finish their Christmas shopping in July. But where do they store all of it until Christmas time?) On the other hand, for those folks who want to enjoy holidays and weekends with their families, that Christmas Creep isn’t as welcome.  Additionally, some of the more traditional sales weekends are being impacted. Just recently many Veterans Day sales yielded lower sales results, largely due to the fact that so many are already searching for Christmas deals.

The ugly reality is that promoting Black Friday sales prior to Thanksgiving is a gamble. Some consumers will certainly embrace it, but it seems a growing number of them are put off by stores that push “holiday sales” prior to Thanksgiving and most especially if those brick & mortar stores choose to be open on Thanksgiving. It is definitely a balancing act that actual retail stores need to manage. The online outlets don’t face that same stigma even though they are just as likely (if not more so) to have employees working on Thanksgiving.

But to go back and answer our opening question, “Is ‘Black Friday’ still just ‘Black Friday’?” We’d have to answer no. Too many outlets – both real and virtual – have used the term to describe sales they’re having well before Thanksgiving… sometimes as much as months ahead. Consumers are getting wise to this and, as a result, the value of the sales term ‘Black Friday’ is being diluted. That’s something to keep under consideration as you build your marketing and sales plan for third and fourth quarter.


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