Posted At: October 31, 2013 10:20 a.m.
by Sarah de Jong
Remember the time when Thanksgiving was about being thankful about what you had, not what you want? That was also back in the day when stores actually had Black Friday sales on Friday. Now, stores are opening even earlier to celebrate the kick-off of shopping season.
According to the National Retail Federation, the amount of weekend shoppers who shopped before midnight on Thanksgiving rose 4 percent between 2011 and 2012. Stores are opening earlier each year, and it has begun to creep into Thanksgiving dinner territory. But, is this a good public relations move?
Mega-stores like Target, Kmart, Walmart and Macy’s have already leaked Black Friday advertisements and more stores are beginning to follow suit. Also, Macy’s recently announced that it would follow in other major stores’ footsteps and open on Thanksgiving Day this year.
Many shoppers are outraged that stores are trying to take away from the holiday. While it may increase sales, opening stores on a holiday is iffy on the PR side. The stores that open on holidays must decide if they care more about the revenues or about the potential customers who value family more than bargains.
With stores such as Macy’s, whose customer demographics are typically mothers or husbands with families, opening earlier could hurt their reputation. Show me a mother or father who wants to slave all day making an extravagant Thanksgiving dinner and then has to spend the entire night shopping for Christmas gifts? Two holidays’ worth of work in 24 hours? I am not sure I understand the company’s thinking with that one.
One thing that stores are doing right is leaking their Black Friday circulars early. While it may be a little early to start running Christmas ads, like Kmart, releasing Black Friday deals could be helpful. For example, I am now officially on three stores’ email lists for exclusive Black Friday deals because I liked what I saw on the leaked ads.
Now, the stores have my email and my preferences of what I am looking to purchase on Black Friday. They know which deals to send me and which deals I am not interested in using. This data can help stores see what customers want, providing the opportunity to cater to their purchasing wants and needs.
In the past, discount stores’ publicity for Black Friday paid off over other types of stores. Typically, these stores, such as Walmart, employ the largest publicity for the shopping holiday. They are characteristically the first to release circulars and have the biggest door-buster deals. Walmart made an estimated $52.4 billion in sales on Black Friday in 2012, taking a large chunk of the overall Black Friday revenue.
Black Friday has turned into a whirlwind weekend of advertising and public relations moves. Each store competes with one another just as the hungry shoppers in line for the Walmart door busters do. Happy shopping!