(this post also appears at Huffington Post, click here to read it there)
I was in high school, working at the local JCPenney ... first in the Catalog Department and then in Men's. This was a time when we were taught at work; a time when we had mentors and we learned the trade. It was an amazing experience because I was schooled in all things retail and customer service, and I learned how to navigate the choppy waters of dealing with "the public." I also learned about the financials of retail, including sales, markdowns, and returns.
Back then, "Black Friday" was typically the calendar day that most retailers finally turned a profit for the year. Since most retail sales, at least back then, happened during the holidays and at back to school, this was a pivotal turning point for retail financials. Plus it was a huge volume/traffic day because everyone was home from school/college and families would start their Christmas shopping, together. I know every year I went out with my parents which always included a fun lunch out, together.
"Black Friday" was organic back then. Retailers didn't fabricate the day, shoppers turned it into a retail holiday and retailers embraced them. It was driven by the shoppers, nothing else.
Then somewhere along the say, it turned into a fiasco. Competing sales, shifting store hours, fights at displays ... "Black Friday" got really messed up. And now of course, it's no longer even Friday. For the last few years it's trickled into Thanksgiving Thursday, and now this year the trend seems to be "Black Friday" all week long. I swear I saw sales starting last week even!
It makes this professional shopper and retail lover want to stay home. In fact I will stay home, or shop online, which is why Cyber Monday has become such a hit. Sorry, correction ... Cyber Week because that too has become a
week long event that's not even waiting for Monday anymore.
It's all so .... exhausting. Can't we just celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, and then go shopping on the next day for a nice day out together? I miss that. I miss the old "Black Friday."
What's your experience? JIM