Shoppers rush to grab electric griddles and slow cookers on sale for $8 shortly after the doors opened at a J.C. Penney story in this file photo from Las Vegas on November 23, 2012. (Julie Jacobson/The Canadian Press/AP)Jacobson

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Chaotic images of people clamouring to be the first through the doors to get their hands on hot deals have become synonymous with Black Friday in recent years.

However, the one-day shopping frenzy at malls and stores following American Thanksgiving may be on the decline as some consumers and retailers start to shun the tradition by either opting out entirely or turning to internet shopping instead.

“In the ’70s and ’80s if you wanted to distinguish yourself as a company you would participate in this event,” said Markus Giesler of York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

“Today it’s the exact other way around.”

Online fashion retailer ModCloth, for example, announced this year that its website would shut down on Black Friday and the company would donate US$5 million worth of merchandise to a non-profit organization.

“It’s been fun, Black Friday. You had the deals and the steals, but this year we’re looking for the feels,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Outdoor retailer REI, on the other hand, has closed its stores on Black Friday for the past two years, given their employees a paid day off, and encouraged people to partake in a new tradition and head outside instead.

These brands are mimicking a consumer shift away from mass consumption, said Giesler.

Once fringe activist movements like Buy Nothing Day — an anti-consumerism protest held on the same day as Black Friday — have seeped into the mainstream as more people embrace minimalism and choose conscious consumption.

“My neighbours left and right would unsurprisingly now say, ‘You know, we no longer do the mall thing. We no longer do the Black Friday thing,’” said Giesler.

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales in stores in the U.S. were down 4.2 per cent, while foot traffic fell 4.4 per cent, according to data from RetailNext, a retail analytics firm.

Two factors seemed to have altered how people view Black Friday, said JoAndrea Hoegg, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

Sales now last about a week, rather than being a single-day event, she said, and the internet has given consumers the ability to find great deals year round.

“(There) seems to be less of an urgency about the purchases,” she said. “It’s sort of less of a hype that this is the one day of the year — this and Boxing Day — that you can really, you know, get that fantastic deal.”

Still, she believes the shopping spree remains popular, especially online.

American consumers spent US$30.39 billion online between Nov. 1 and 22, according to Adobe Analytics data, which covers 80 per cent of transactions made with the country’s 100 largest e-retailers. That’s up nearly 18 per cent from the same timeframe last year.

As of 5 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving day, the company said Americans already spent nearly 17 per cent more than they did last year, shelling out $1.52 billion online.

For shoppers not interested in the social aspect of Black Friday shopping, online purchases make much more sense, Hoegg said.

“You don’t have to deal with the crowds and the deals are, by and large, just as good.”

Certain industries in particular are experiencing a Black Friday renaissance online, said Giesler, highlighting that technology firms are known to offer “legendary” sales.

Shoppers looking to buy an Amazon Alexa, a Phillips Hue system, a Nest thermostat or other trendy technology, he said, scour the internet for Black Friday deals.

“I may not go for the big-box television flat screen at Best Buy,” Giesler said. “But I may go to Amazon, I may go to Nest or to Ecobee to buy myself a little bit of technology.”

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Ivy at Nelson Courthouse to be removed

The ivy is causing structural damage to the building

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

As Nelson hotels close, some try to stay open without guests

Vacancies are there, even for people who need to self-isolate

Nelson police make drug bust in Railtown

Drugs, weapons and stolen property were among the items found

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

Most Read