The National Retail Federation reported that holiday sales represented more than a third of all annual sales for some retailers, so a good start on Black Friday is vital for many stores, said Phil Dengler, co-owner of BestBlackFriday.com, a website that tracks the best holiday shopping deals.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has been the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season since the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in the 1920s.
The name “Black Friday” refers to companies profits since account records kept in black ink indicate profits as opposed to red, which signifies losses. The day exploded in popularity after retailers realized they could drum up large crowds by discounting prices.
“The promise of the best prices of the year attracts people to Black Friday,” Dengler said. “It is a condensed shopping period when everything is assumed to be on sale.”
The promise of discounts and a jumpstart on holiday shopping have led to some people to make it a yearly tradition to camp outside local stores to try to get the best deals. There have been concerns that the shopping holiday’s popularity has dwindled, but Dengler says that isn’t the case.
“Despite some reports, Black Friday is still very significant for retailers,” Dengler said. “Black Friday is no longer a single day and more of a week or longer event, stores rely on these days to kick-start their holiday sales.”
Black Friday deals have moved online — similar to Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving where there are deals online — and extend several weeks in some cases.
The recent closure of all Toys R Us stores demonstrates the importance of the holiday shopping season, and stores like Sears are in a similar situation this year.
“Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday could very well determine if this is the last holiday period we see Kmart and Sears,” Dengler said. “Look at Toys R Us. They were in a similar position last year and didn’t have a spectacular sales season and now are no longer with us for Black Friday 2018.”
Two other retailers especially dependent on the Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping period are Best Buy and Target as they continue to compete with Amazon’s online shopping.
“Best Buy and Target have invested a lot in their online shops and are attempting to combat Amazon’s looming presence in every marketplace,” Dengler said. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday is going to be a huge test to see whether Best Buy and Target have put any dent in Amazon’s growth.”