Black Friday has retailers seeing red; Can Cyber Monday save them?

NRFHas Black Friday jumped the shark?  And it if has, is that a bad thing?  Some $7  billion went missing this weekend, according to early estimates from the National Retail Federation.  (Sales for the four-day weekend dropped from $57.4 billion last year to $50.9 billion this year).

Mayday!  The golden goose seems to be cooked.

The early and obvious culprit is earlier sales windows.  Not just Thanksgiving night early — some Black Friday sales were valid all last week, meaning consumers didn’t have to risk life, limb, or domestic tranquility to shop on Friday.  It’s also hard to imagine that U.S. consumers see less and less value to standing online when they can shop at home.

To be sure, some 87 million people did some shopping this weekend, so it’s not like the “holiday” is dead.   Maybe the golden goose is just sick.  I think it’s probably time to retire it, actually.  And good riddance.  Black Friday seems to bring out the worst in people, it often messes up families trying to enjoy Thanksgiving, and in the end, it doesn’t actually seem to have the intended effect any more (convincing people to spend more than they would otherwise spend).

Retailers still think the net effect will be pretty good sales for the year, though it’s far too early to know.  It’s not a stretch to suggest that a middling Black Friday result is yet another indicator of our middling economic recovery.  Despite all this alleged dark news, it seems folks are still going to spend more than they can afford this season, aided and abetted by plastic. A Trans Union study released last month found that more than eight in ten U.S. adults (84 percent) said they are worried about the affordability of their holiday shopping list, and nearly half (48 percent) said they would rely mostly on credit cards to buy gifts.

Don’t forget: Even if you saved $200 on that television, you still spent $400 on it! So give with your head and your heart this season.

Did you spot any great cyber-Monday deals?

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About Bob Sullivan 1494 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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