Walmart sealed the deal finally – they too will begin their Black Friday promotions at 6pm on Thanksgiving night.
We called it a year ago – after a flood of retailers caved by opening earlier than ever before – most at 10pm on Thanksgiving night.
This year it is 6pm. Next year it may transform entirely – moving “Black Friday” to early Thursday morning and done with so that folks can finally go back to what it is all about – Thanksgiving.
Once upon a time Black Friday was easy to decipher. Doors opened early, ads came out at a set time and quantities were not so limited. Now the chaos is compounded in real time as smart phone apps and social media are the way to get secret deals, the specials that are not “advertised” for the crazed masses.
Will the masses show up?
That is an interesting question this year for several reasons: the first could be cited as the very reason retailers are doing this in the first place: there’s a real recession on, this Christmas was doomed before it began due to the late Thanksgiving, and healthcare concerns are putting a damper on more than Christmas sales. Retailers are desperate, pure and simple.
The crowds will be there but they will not be populated with the diversity they once had. Conservative buyers, who are typically suckers for early morning price wars, are concerned about what that Affordable Health Care Act will cost them come January. Black Friday or no, they ain’t buying this Christmas no matter when it is on sale.
So who then will show up? Will it be the more than 50 million Americans on food stamps…or the 90 million unemployed?
Yeah, retailers are real nervous.
Will there be violence?
Maybe. And perhaps it will come more from employees than customers this time around. Walmart, which suffered a threatened strike last Thanksgiving that made coast-to-coast headlines, is requiring all store employees to work Thanksgiving. All employees. No one gets a break. How many of them will have to skip Thanksgiving at home now that the 6pm start time to Black Friday insanity has been announced? It is all curiously timed to coincide against posting deadlines for store schedules. The next stories you will read will be about the disgruntled workers of Walmart, Target, Kmart and others who resent the ever-disappearing Thanksgiving.
Retailers, of course, blame the customers. Spokesperson after spokesperson has told the media that customers have shown they want to shop on Thanksgiving.
Think about that when you see the stores deserted on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Don’t think you can escape the madness by just staying home on Thanksgiving. If you have a computer or a tablet or a smart phone you will not be able to escape the emails, posts, tweets and buzz of online retailers – including the Walmarts of the world – who will be vying for the dollars spent on deals. It has actually started already and the cat-and-mouse game of who will out-wait whom for the best deal has begun.
Will that item be cheaper online at $10 less with free shipping…or should I get it now while Walmart guarantees to have it in stock for 1-hour at least past their opening?
It puts a lot of pressure on those who like to enjoy their pie on Thanksgiving evening.
This year, we are taking a stand. This will be the last we speak of Black Friday this year. We’re sitting it out.
Black Friday is dark indeed — a blight on America, on the celebration of Christmas itself. We disassociate ourselves with it entirely.