Written by Debbie Estes, ACE; and Noelle Hawton, senior consultant

Black Friday. These two words may evoke one of two images in your mind:

  1. A fun-filled day of shopping for the best deals around town while squeezing in a visit to good old Kris Kringle; OR
  2. Long lines of sleep-deprived shopaholics, combined with chaos in every parking lot across America.

No matter what Black Friday brings to your mind, the fact remains that this once-a-year shopping event still drives a media and consumer frenzy. Yet, now that we can shop with the click of the button or a swipe of the finger, has Black Friday become a thing of the past?

No. In fact, the holiday shopping and sales season is a multi-month affair.

Black Friday is driven by the needs and demands of the consumer. And consumers demand better and better deals throughout the year. In response, retailers have expanded Black Friday into a fiscal quarter-long season of promotions, starting with back-to-school specials and then running offers through December 24 — giving even the last-minute shopper a deal or three.

Black Friday Relevant

The consumer is driving the expanded shopping season for many reasons:

  • They are shopping for extended families, blended families and immigrant families “back home.”
  • They need to stretch their budget to find the right gift at the right price.
  • They are savvy. They know that there is not a surplus inventory of “hot-ticket items” and they want to buy it, hide it and know they have it.
  • They need to take advantage of early and economical overseas shipping deadlines, especially important for U.S. military families.
  • They shop online early and they shop online at the last minute.

Savvy shoppers who aren’t interested in the live, stand-in-line Black Friday experience have more options than ever to score super deals. Online tools, one of which happens to be a Tunheim client, TrackIf, allow users to make technology work for them — sending alerts when gotta-have items are discounted. And, actually, this is the only way to guarantee shoppers have all the information needed to get the very best buy, as retailers are constantly changing prices.

However, the in-person Black Friday experience is not yet dead — it’s just the hours that have changed.

Black Friday is all about the experience for some shoppers. We’ve all seen news reports of some consumers camping out days before Thanksgiving, and there’s also last-minute stragglers who still get in line after they know the “door busters” are gone. Most will show up early to watch movies on their mobile device, pitch a tent for shelter from the cold, have something warm in their Thermos and get last-minute, geo-targeted deals on their phone. And when the doors finally open, they buy one or two items for the “thrill of the hunt,” maybe visit a second store and are home, tucked in bed, at the stroke of midnight — dreaming about Cyber Monday.

Do you think Black Friday deals still factor into a consumer’s buying decision in our always-on shopping universe? Tell us in the comments below.

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