Black Friday has been around since the 1950s, and although there are many myths of its origins, the real story was unveiled by the History Channel; “police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.” This true story was eventually overshadowed by marketers trying to spin the day in a more positive light as we know it today: a day of discounts so deep that people line up as much as a day early to score big.
Black Friday has spawned a few other “shopping” days including Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. These days are mostly in response to the rampant consumerism of Black Friday and encourage shoppers to support small, local businesses, shop from the comfort of their home, and support their favorite charities. In addition to these other shopping days, many retailers have put their foot down recently. This year, REI announced that it would be sitting out the Black Friday festivities by closing on Black Friday.
“REI’s announcement … is indicative of a growing trend of brands seeking to connect with consumers,” said Julie Lyons, a consumer analyst and president and COO of marketing agency Zenzi. “Targeting demographics is no longer enough. As a result, many brands are realizing the importance of psychographics to connect with customers on a deeper level. … REI is showing that it is committed to a higher purpose. It is seeking to connect with consumers that prioritize experiencing life, appreciating nature and spending time with family over the chaos of the holiday season.”
And of course, REI was “open” for Cyber Monday and offering sales and deals. Is this a shift to more web-based shopping? What do you think this means for brick-and-mortar stores?