Gray is the new black, Halloween is the new Christmas and, apparently, today is the new “Black Friday.” Yes, that infamous Friday after Thanksgiving has now turned into a full week-long shopping extravaganza (though Walletpop has reported deals beginning as early as October). Some stores are even staying open on Thanksgiving Day.
While the original purpose of Black Friday was to offer consumers great deals during the gift-buying pre-holiday season, this year’s event has turned into a retail free-for-all. In addition to earlier start dates, stores are slashing prices to counteract slow sales caused by the recession. According to Craig Johnson, president of research firm Customer Growth Partners, “consumers have endured two years of economic body blows, but have been slowly picking themselves off the mat since last year, despite the employment woes.”
Black Friday-themed ads for retail chains like Wal-Mart, Sears and Best Buy were recently released, allowing electronics shoppers to prepare for their spree. But regardless of the in-store seductions, many are looking to avoid the crowds this year: A survey by CouponMountain.com estimates that 55% of shoppers will stick to online sales.
The National Retail Federation estimates Black Friday will have overall sales growth of 2.3% compared to 2009’s 0.4% increase. If those projections are right, once the discounts dissipate, consumers will have spent a staggering $447.1 billion.