Black Friday Shoppers Worry About Economy as Retailers Push Sales
Black Friday shopping can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, people get to take advantage of Black Friday deals that give the illusion of buying “in bulk.” As a result, people can shop online and avoid the hassle of trying to negotiate prices in person, or go out as early as possible and make last-minute purchases at the top of each retail site.
On the other hand, Black Friday is a sales-initiative that usually comes on a Friday. As a result, many people who make their purchases at home on Friday are at a disadvantage to the people who have spent their Friday shopping at the mall. And as a result, many people who shop at the malls on Black Friday are the same people who will buy in bulk later.
Black Friday is also a time when people start to get nervous about the economy. Last year, the National Retail Federation reported that a single store in every local mall is seeing revenues decline in the first half of 2011 over the same period in 2010. What does that mean for retailers? More than one analyst believes that this slow start could have an impact on Black Friday shopping, as customers wait longer for their purchases to arrive from the warehouse at the mall and stores begin to run out of inventory at a time when prices are still rising. It means that stores don’t get their big sales to get people to come back to the mall. It also means that retailers will likely have to cut prices more aggressively to catch up to the competition.
In order to be able to predict what this means for the future, we need to look at the past. To do that, I looked at Black Friday traffic patterns for three major retail stores in 2010: Gap, Wal-Mart and Target. According to a recent report by the U.S. Travel Association, the number of people who went shopping on Black Friday this year was up slightly, but Black Friday traffic is not increasing significantly compared with 2008.
The Gap Stores
To understand why that is, we must look at the Gap, the nation’s largest chain