Can We Make Every Day Black Friday?

We recently had the busiest shopping day of the year, known as “Black Friday.”  Not knowing how many people were out – I don’t participate in the getting up early part of this day – I would assume that it was another success for businesses.

The term “Black Friday” dates back to at least 1966, although its usage was primarily on the East coast. The term has become more common in other parts of the country since 2000.  Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.  According to Reuters, in 2007 135 million people participated in the Black Friday shopping rush.

Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday (with the exceptions of those employed in retailing, health care, and banking), which increases the number of potential shoppers.  Retailers often decorate for the Christmas and holiday season weeks beforehand.  Many retailers open extremely early, with most of the retailers typically opening at 5AM or even earlier.  Some of the larger retailers (depending on the location) such as Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart have been reported to open as early as midnight on the start of Black Friday in localized areas and remain open for 24 hours throughout the day until midnight the following Saturday.  Upon opening, retailers offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores.  Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term “Black Friday” has been traced back only to the 1960s.

The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day (see Origin of the name “Black Friday” below).  More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).

OK, so people went out and got great deals last Friday.  Given the economy, I’m wondering about all these deals that were offered.  If a business can give these deep discounts and remain profitable, why couldn’t they do the same thing the rest of the year?  Even if the discounts weren’t as big I would think a business could reduce prices – not necessarily sales – and still make money.

I could be way off base with this, but we hear things about stimulating the economy and I have yet to hear anything about helping the consumer dollar stretch.  From gas at the pump to grapes at the grocery store, if consumers could buy more with their money I think we would be willing to spend more.

I vote for every day being a “Black Friday!”

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  1. I agree! This may sound stupid but months ago I sent a story idea to Oprah and called it Yellow Friday. The basis was to do Black Friday (I changed it and called it Yellow Friday) in late spring/early summer to give the economy the same jump start Black Friday gives it late Fall/early Winter. This thought came to me during all the stimulus attempts.

    I am not familiar with loss leaders but I do know some of the door buster deals were phenomenal. Can you say Old Navy!!! The PX here on the military installation did something I think – from a marketing perspective – was good and others either are starting to do or will start to do to keep the crowds coming in all weekend. They did (Black) Friday only sales, Saturday only sales and Sunday only sales. Also they did 2 hour sales on Black Friday. From 8 am until 10 am ALL Dooney and Burke purses were 25% off! From 5 pm until 7 pm all Coach purses were 25% off. And there were other 2 hour only deals. Absolutely brilliant! This strategic marketing ploy was a clever way to get and keep shoppers in the store at all hours of the day!

    I love Black Friday. I always anticipate the retail war to see which ones will undercut the other to offer the best deal!

  2. The reality is that retailers couldn’t afford to cut prices year round; especially on electronics and other big ticket items. To use Walmart as an example; they have a very small profit margin on grocery goods but make a killing on big ticket items which is where their overall profit margin evens out.

    Black Friday isn’t about offering great prices to the consumers it’s about reducing certain items to the highest possible price that will still induce impulse buying and motivate people to show up for Black Friday. The so called door busters are designed to get you in the doors of the stores where you’ll likely buy more than just the one or two door buster items that got you into the store.

    Companies are not there to take losses or to help any of us stretch our budgets. They are there to employ people and make profit. This collective idea of companies making things better for everyone feeds right into the idea that someone else should be looking out for us. It’s not about the collective, it’s about the individual. Individual rights, individual responsibility. If you want your money to go further cut costs where you can, get a second job, clip coupons, stop eating out, etc… It’s up to to each and everyone one of us to take responsibility for ourselves.(Help our neighbors when we can and when they’re deserving and needing of the help) I know this is a novel concept considering the example being set by our government. If you’re not happy with what a companies charging for a product; don’t buy it!

    In regards to the grape end of the spectrum as well as gas it should be noted that going green is going to cost us all green. Power bills, produce, and anything produced in country will be affected by the green agenda currently being pursued by our government. If you’re serious about stretching your money you should be serious about looking into the green legislation coming down the beltway.
    .-= Ryan Kazinec´s last blog ..Can Your Physician Definitively Diagnose You with Swine Flu (Type A Novel H1N1) ? The Answer Might Surprise You. =-.

  3. Ryan, wow! Even though this was not a deep topic and not about the government I will follow your logic.

    If you don’t like what is going on in our country as much as you don’t, planes, trains and automobiles are leaving all the time. I agree with many of your views but I will not take every opportunity to bash our government. If we are going to stimulate our economy we need to be smart about it. I guess you are OK with there eventually being two classes – rich and poor – buy I’m not. At least you could suggest everyone cut personal costs and businesses cut prices.

    If you think Black Friday is even close to being a break even day for businesses you are sadly mistaken. also, can you give me some proof about you price statements?

  4. @Tom Sawyer
    Trust me Tom I’ve already utilized cars and trains; not to leave the country I love but to get to Washington to express my anguish. Voting is no longer enough.

    I’m not sure what you didn’t understand about the following portion of my comment. At no point did I say companies don’t make profit on Black Friday. That is in fact the ultimate goal of Black Friday.

    “Black Friday isn’t about offering great prices to the consumers it’s about reducing certain items to the highest possible price that will still induce impulse buying and motivate people to show up for Black Friday. The so called door busters are designed to get you in the doors of the stores where you’ll likely buy more than just the one or two door buster items that got you into the store.”

    It’s the customers that buy multiple items beyond the door busters that create the revenue for the companies.

    For a piece of evidence, let’s hear it straight from the horses mouth:(You’ll notice SF Gate on the video – San Fran isn’t exactly conservative headquarters)

    Now let’s use the Presidents logic. Any company that produces goods in our country that emits pollution(Farms, Shoe Companies, etc…) will pass the burden of the the carbon credits onto the consumer. It’s no different than the TVA ash spill in Tennessee. The CEO was asked how TVA would pay for the massive pickup and lawsuits in which he replied the TVA customers will with eventual rate hikes.
    .-= Ryan Kazinec´s last blog ..Can Your Physician Definitively Diagnose You with Swine Flu (Type A Novel H1N1) ? The Answer Might Surprise You. =-.

  5. If you love the country so much, how can you turn a blind eye to 8 years of government, but blame Clinton and Obama for everything that ails us? You also do this while claiming you are NOT a Republican.

    But more to the point, it is possible to have a black, yellow or pink Friday every day. If a business is making money they have achieved their goal, but the amount of money they make is where your concrete capitalist views and my creative economic relief views part ways.

    You seem to be in favor of capitalism all the time, but I’m sure there are areas where you would like others to share the burden, whether monetary or otherwise. What you call capitalism is fine, but in some cases I think we should just have a heart and give our fellow man some relief. Especially if we know we are doing well while they aren’t. Do you believe in giving to charity? I would say there are millions of Americans who would love it if Walmart, Exxon, Chevron and others made a charitable donation via reduced prices.

  6. @Tom Sawyer
    I love how you ignored Obama’s comments and seem to have forgotten many of my prior comments regarding Bush. When Bush was elected I was 19 years old and didn’t pay much attention to politics. Like many others I was provoked into action after witnessing the first major economic crisis of my lifetime. I’ve paid attention to politics for several years now but never have I paid such close attention to what is going on in Washington and the “Ignorance is bliss” state of mind is forever gone.

    I’d love for you to enlighten me. Where exactly would I be in favor of others sharing my burdens?
    Last time I checked I didn’t ask you to pay my mortgage, buy my groceries, fill my tank, or pay for my education. Would I love to get everything for free? No, not really. You can’t truly appreciate something unless you worked hard to earn it.

    I am a VERY giving individual and donate to charities on a regular basis, especially those related to animals. The key word is individual. Charity is a beautiful thing when an individual has the choice to give but forced charity through taxation is nothing more than theft. There are few things that make a person feel as good as they do when they know they’ve helped someone in need but that person in need has to be willing to help themselves as well. If they’re not willing to help themselves then they are taking advantage of the generosity of those who give and aren’t really in need as much as they’re relying on someone else to take care of them.

    You’re going to be in a real sour mood once inflation hits. Instead of 365 day a year discount you’re going to see the opposite. Your entire scheme sounds a lot like something our President said. What was that? That’s right, “Spreading the Wealth.” Instead of paying dividends to their shareholders, creating additional private sector jobs, or donating to charities, they should give should just forfeit that profit and cut prices year round and spread their wealth throughout the population. Didn’t I see a Bill Gates email that had a similar ring to it? Let’s not forget we all can decide who we buy from.

    In 2008 Walmart gave 378 million dollars to charities but you’re right they should reduce their profit margins to help us all out:
    You don’t have to buy from Wal-Mart. If you want to save money, price the competition and buy things when they’re on sale. Most companies price match so get the competitions ad and save money.

    It would be a wonderful utopia if all companies transformed into non-profit organizations (Slight sarcasm). Wait a minute…. Doesn’t it take profit to create additional jobs? Oh that’s right, government jobs can be created out of thin air.
    .-= Ryan Kazinec´s last blog ..Can Your Physician Definitively Diagnose You with Swine Flu (Type A Novel H1N1) ? The Answer Might Surprise You. =-.

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