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Give Thanks . . . For Black Friday

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!


  1. Post comment

    I agree with your post about Black Friday. The Thanksgiving holiday is a day to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life. Thanksgiving is an important holiday that should be spent with family and loved ones. The national holiday is a time to appreciate what you have. Black Friday interferes with Thanksgiving and changes the focus from what you have to what material goods you want. Thanksgiving should not be spent fighting with strangers over the last pair of shoes or a toy. Black Friday interferes with the Thanksgiving holiday; however, as you stated in the post, promoting the shopping day early is effective. Promoting store sales for Black Friday yields higher revenues and number of sales.

  2. Post comment

    This article caught my attention because of its title. Black Friday is something I don’t think should be mixed with the Thanksgiving tradition. For one, these holidays are the complete opposite of each other; one about acquiring more products and one about being thankful for what we already have. I think that the corporations should respect the Thanksgiving holiday and remain closed. Also what about the people who work at these stores? They have families and loved ones they would love to spend Thanksgiving with as well. It seems overly greedy to make these people give up a holiday with their family, so that the company can be the leader in Black Friday sales.

  3. Post comment

    I thought this blog post was quite interesting because it covered something I was completely unaware of. I do not shop often, nor do I look at leaked ads or pay attention to promotional emails, but I think it is crazy that these stores are opening earlier than midnight on black Friday because it could potentially ruin Thanksgiving dinners for countless families. I know if my parents tried to alter Thanksgiving dinner plans around shopping later on, I would be irate. I think they should go back to the way it was, and let those really interested in getting a head start on the shopping to wait until midnight to start the madness.

  4. Post comment

    Good piece, Sarah! This article caught my attention since Thanksgiving and Black Friday are coming up later this month. I work in retail but have never looked at Black Friday in this perspective before. I think it is ridiculous that stores open on Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday deals. Thanksgiving is a holiday for giving thanks and being with family. What happened to that time when we were thankful for what we had and were not just focused on what we want? I personally think that Thanksgiving should be reserved for family time, but I can completely understand why stores would open sooner. With an increasing percentage of shoppers before midnight, stores are aware of the potential to increase revenue by starting Black Friday deals early. It would be a good public relations move to make it known that the company values and respects family time on Thanksgiving by not starting until Friday. On the other hand, it would be a horrible business move to deny the opportunity to increase revenues on Thanksgiving. I see both sides to this situation. I cannot determine if either is right or wrong. Regardless of when the deals begin, it is evident that Black Friday sales are thriving.


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