Black Friday Backlash

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As much attention as Black Friday attracts, there's just as much negativity directed towards it, be it complaints about the superficial nature of the day, the spending of money we don't have, or even sales reports that fall short of expectations. There are several examples of those already evident this year. There are more videos after the jump.

The Washington Post has a report today that analyzes Thanksgiving weekend sales and how they relate to the overall holiday reports and come to a somewhat surprising conclusions: that strong Black Friday weekend sales are actually indicative of weaker overall holiday sales.

Retailers know that a typical family spends whatever it will spend on holiday gift-giving, and that whether that spending comes on Nov. 23 or Dec. 23 doesn't make that much difference in the aggregate. But retailers aren't a monolith; they are all chasing market share from the others. And the minute one retailer discovers that opening at midnight on Thanksgiving will attract a mob of people, cash in hand, others are reluctant to cede those sales to the guy down the block. Thus, an opening-time arms race that resulted in this year's prevalence of stores opening at 8:00p.m. on Thanksgiving.

For the media, it is a ready-made story. It takes place at a time that there is little other news, and it is known in advance, so editors and TV news directors can plan in advance for coverage. And there's no doubt that video of people stampeding through the doors of a Wal-Mart in hot pursuit of a new Wii makes for great television. That is even putting aside more cynical possibilities, such as that media depend on retail advertising and thus have a vested interest in creating a sense of hype and anticipation around an orgy of consumerism.

• Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren took some backhanded shots at competitors whose sales result in scenes in the video above. Speaking to CNN this morning, Lundgren said, "We haven't had any problems. I don't know what that means exactly in terms of the crowd that we attract."

• Social media is providing a good outlet for Black Friday shoppers to blow off steam when they don't find what they want or take umbrage with a store's organization.

• Even locally, there were some fights, including a brawl at a Joliet mall that saw 6 teens arrested.

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This page contains a single entry by Marcus Gilmer published on November 23, 2012 11:04 AM.

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