In case you haven't noticed all the pre-hype, Black Friday is coming soon to a retailer near you.
Of course we all know that Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is the biggest shopping day of the year, the day that retailers actually start to make a profit (or get out of the "red" and go "black") for the year (or at least that's the folklore).
The truth is that it's all become a bit of a sport.
On the retailer's side, the game is how to attract the most customers the earliest and get the most of the dollar share of wallet. Store hours, early bird discounts, free gifts with purchase, exclusive items ... retailers are all competing with each other to offer the best Black Friday experience.
On the shopper's side, I think it's about bragging rights. Who got up the earliest, stood in the longest line, saved the most money ... this too has become a game.
This year it's starting early. The promotions are already "one-upping" each other. Used to be that we didn't know the Black Friday deals until we got in the store. Now they are all posted on-line and in circulars so that we can pre-plan our day based on store hours and deals being offered. There's even a website that consolidates all the deals for us! And a Twitter handle (@blackfriday) to track the conversations! And multiple Facebook pages. It's fun to watch one brand try to outwit the next. It's just starting a bit early for my blood ... I'm still in October mode! It's too early!
Early is right! Toys 'R Us ... America's last standing toy store (and finally doing quite well thank you very much) just announced that it will open at 9:00pm Thanksgiving night. The night before Black Friday. One hour ahead of Walmart who just announced a 10:00pm opening on Thanksgiving night. Black Friday is becoming Turkey Stuffing. Get stuffed and then go shopping!
The online world is getting in the action early as well. Amazon has been consistently changing its offers to match those of the brick and mortar retailers to try to steal those sales early in the game. Many retailers, like Toys 'R Us, are offering the same Black Friday deals online and in-store. No need to go to the store and no need to wait until Cyber Monday.
Ahh ... Cyber Monday. The Monday after Thanksgiving has become the biggest online shopping day of the year. Will we have any room left?
What's your experience? Jim.
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect