for Time Magazine
If Black Friday was just a day when retailers were concerned solely with in-store sales, then Black Friday 2012 was something of a dud. But the idea of “Black Friday” has expanded far beyond a mere 24 hours, as well as the traditional in-store experience.
The retail research firm ShopperTrak estimates that shoppers spent $11.2 billion at physical stores on Black Friday. That represents a 1.8% decline from Black Friday of 2011. Does this mean that the importance of Black Friday to retailers is also on the decline?
Not remotely. What's happened, then, is that Black Friday has grown so big that it cannot be contained in a single 24-hour period, nor are its sales and promotions limited to the stuff displayed on shelves and racks at the mall. Today, “Black Friday” begins on Thanksgiving morning (if not earlier) when retailers flood e-mail subscribers with special online shopping offers. It stretches on to Thanksgiving night, when stores open their doors for Black Friday door busters several hours before Friday has truly arrived. On through the long holiday weekend the stream of sales and promotions continues, encompassing every mode of shopping known to man.
As the Associated Press reported, in-store sales on Friday itself fell, naturally enough, directly as a result of so many stores opening on Thanksgiving night. Because shoppers were whipping out credit cards and cash at Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, and elsewhere on Thursday night, they (probably) weren't loading up their shopping carts the following morning, the actual Friday of “Black Friday.”…Read the complete article