Black Friday is Dead. Long Live Black November.

April 28, 2016

Have you started your Black Friday shopping yet? It’s not a crazy thing to ask a week early; this year, Black Friday is now Black November. CNN Money reported that 2012 Black Friday weekend spending reached $59.1 billion, up from $52.4 billion in 2011. And that’s just the weekend. This year, retailers – both online and off – are upping the ante with a month of deals, all leading up to the blow-out sale of the season. Here are some strategies we’re seeing in 2013 that are poised to change the game of pre-holiday shopping forever:

1. Strategy #1: The early, early bird special. This year, some stores are opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving instead of waiting until the once-customary midnight to throw open their doors. Kmart, Target and Macy’s are all offering earlier times, and Walmart, who opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday night last year, is opening two hours earlier at 6 p.m. this year, just when most turkeys are hitting the table. Although 6 p.m. may be a stretch for those still enjoying their meals, opening earlier does allow the crowd that typically would not go out for the late-night shopping battle to get their shopping in early and still capture the deals, while pumping up Black Friday spending within the store. Online, Amazon started offering the Countdown to Black Friday Sales Week, in which new daily price reductions are offered on select products, at the very beginning of November … only to start their ACTUAL Black Friday deals on Monday, the 25th, with sales lasting all the way through Cyber Monday.

2. Strategy #2: Social sells. When planning for Black Friday, shoppers’ first stops will be online to social media pages for times, coupons, event updates, inspiration, etc., well before they leave the house or click over to Amazon. Two Fridays earlier, there was already an average of almost 700 #blackfriday mentions per hour on Twitter. Look out for deal-specific Twitter accounts, like @HomeDepotDeals or @SearsDeals from previous years, to crop up utilizing #blackfriday. Also having a comprehensive and active Facebook page, especially in the week leading up to the event, is essential in bringing hype and raising enthusiasm with fans and those seeking out where to find the best places open for the night, with many companies posting teasers and flyers weeks before the event. Allagash Brewing had already posted its deals in the middle of November and embraced the new frontier of hashtags on Facebook, a trend that will soon be blowing up newsfeeds everywhere.

3. Strategy #3: It’s more than a shopping trip … it’s an EVENT. Although a shopping tradition for many, Black Friday skeptics need more than just the prospect of reduced prices to get them off the couch after their turkey dinners. Stores, or more specifically shopping destinations – such as our clients The Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk and Vero Beach Outlets – plan to make them believers with a night packed with incentives and entertainment including live music, free food or drink samples, gift card giveaways and other small prize contests to get people to join, stay and spend at the shopping party.

4. Strategy #4: Keep them coming back for more. Many large chains are living the philosophy of, “Give more … give often.” Best Buy, for example, had an event called My Elite Evening, inviting – through eblasts – a number of customers to score special offers and earn 3x the usual My Best Buy Points for their purchases, at a late-night shopping spree on the 17th … 13 days before their Black Friday event. Offering bonuses toward a rewards system on top of already reduced prices might sound like overkill, but it is the perfect way to ensure repeat shoppers who want to use those points to get even better deals, especially around the holidays. Super Saturday is only a few weeks away …

All of these strategies share a common goal: to capture the greatest share of wallet from holiday shoppers. Black Friday may become a faded retail memory as it becomes less tied to the day after Thanksgiving. It’s clear, though, that retailers will grow increasingly more creative with their promotions, and continue to push the boundaries of when and where it is culturally acceptable to deck the halls with holiday sales.