Though some hardy traditionalists no doubt spent Thursday night camped outside some department store entrance, most holiday shoppers understand that the post-Thanksgiving lawn-chair-and-thermos ritual is by now a quaint throwback. Black Friday has been going on now for at least a week.
Maybe longer, if you believe the National Retail Federation, which has been issuing updates on 2015 holiday shopping since Halloween ended. Black Friday ad circulars for Target and Walmart have been available since mid-November online and in mobile apps, long before the print versions.
Amazon’s Black Friday online store opened last Friday, with eight days of deals posting every five minutes, plus app-only deals for people who shop on smartphones. Even for those who still insist on holiday shopping the analog way – in person – Black Friday is passé.
Arden Fair mall in Sacramento opened its doors at 6 p.m. Thursday, before the pumpkin pie was even digested in some households. Sales at Toys R Us and Best Buy started at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Sales at J.C. Penney and Walgreens started even earlier on turkey day.
For some, this is sad news. Once, Thanksgiving was a sacred observance of community and family. Now it’s just another gluttonous, consumerist U.S. bacchanal.
Or, some may mourn the loss of one of the few rituals that still seemed to bring Americans together. After all, the doorbuster deal line doesn’t care if you’re red state or blue state, Fox News or MSNBC.
Evolution does have its consolations. Earnings may be taking a hit at Macy’s and Nordstrom, but nature still beckons. REI is shutting its doors for the day and urging shoppers to #OptOutside. Forty-nine parks will be free to visitors on Friday in California, thanks to an anonymous donation to the Save the Redwoods League.
But whether the day after Thanksgiving is, for you, a merry, silver-bells tradition or an ominous sign that end days are a-comin’, it may help to know that studies have shown its retail sales number to actually have no bearing, historically, on the profitability of a Christmas shopping season.
It usually isn’t the biggest shopping day in the nation. It doesn’t necessarily offer the best discounts. It didn’t even derive its name from commerce – the nickname was coined by police who had to direct the throngs of traffic for the annual Army-Navy football game, which fell on the same day, in Philadelphia.
Black Friday may be going, going, gone as a tradition. But, hey, it was never all it was cracked up to be.