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Realities of the New Black Friday

Christmas lands on December 25th. That is the constant — the north star of retailing and the deadline on the mind of every Christmas shopper.

In an age where confusion reigns of when to get the best deal and where to get it the simple fact remains that Christmas is unchangeable. That seems to be lost on both merchant and Christmas shopper these days.

Black Friday used to be so simple. It was on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. And by “day” we mean, 8 a.m.

That, of course, has been messed with in the extreme. Now Black Friday actually falls on a Thursday and, depending upon the retailer you talk to, it begins at different times. For Kmart, it is 6 a.m. For Macy’s, it is 6 p.m. For Costco, it isn’t on Thursday at all.

What happened? Who is to blame for this madness?

The cop out answer is to blame corporate greed. But that’s a lie. Corporations that cash in on Black Friday and Christmas were no less greedy back in the day than they are now.

Believe it or not, the Black Friday sales of this year will make LESS money for retailers than ever before. It does not matter when those sales begin. And yet, the hype, the constant commercials, the ongoing debates, the insanity of disrupting Thanksgiving and the **yech!** that has become Black Friday can all be blamed on one thing: the Internet.

Think about it: Amazon does not have a Black Friday. Oh yeah, yeah…they have a sale. But are any more people lined up outside their doors to shop that day? What about employees? Are we hearing anything new about more Amazon employees having to work on Thanksgiving?

Nope. They never close. They never blink. They get to appear open 24/7 to the entire world and that’s a powerful fact that old school retailers have never been able to overcome.

In fact, online retailing is killing more than Black Friday and Christmas shopping in general. They are killing off retailers as we know them.

Kmart and Sears, who have been in perpetual bankruptcy since the 1970s, announced they were closing stores before Christmas this year. Does that sound like a retailer believing that Black Friday is going to help them?

They are dying — as is Radio Shack and JCPenney’s and even **gasp!** Walmart — because shopping online is that good.

Now consider this: Walmart is just as big online as Amazon. Why is it that you get different deals online from Walmart than you do during their Black Friday event? And why is it cheaper online than going into the store?

That is the reality of Black Friday. No matter how stores sell it Black Friday can never match the deals online. That’s it — end of story.

It isn’t in old model television sold cheap. Or the best price on a laptop. Those games get played and have been played since Mary and Joseph showed up without a reservation. Black Friday is dead because who needs it?

Oh yes, you’ll hear about Black Friday on the news. You’ll see the Youtube videos of the aggressive crowds rushing stores to get to the goods. But in the end the news will be as bleak as it is predictable: retailers will suffer the worse Christmas ever while online counterparts will enjoy strong sales.

It is not hard to see why. Who wants to give up any valuable time — whether it is on Thanksgiving Day or in the dark of night on Black Friday morning — when you can get as good or better deals shopping online when you want?

Why brave the cold when you can do that in your jammies? Why shop in a store where everyone else is in your way when you can see it all online seemingly alone?

It is a no brainer.

If you want the best deals this shopping season forget Black Friday. Instead, shop the shipping deals, investigate the “Cyber Monday” sales events, and study the online sales of all retailers online.

Black Friday is a fool’s errand.

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.

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