Black Friday comes early for US shoppers - but has it worked?

Posted on 25th Nov 2011 by Scott Goodson in Blog

Black Friday started earlier than usual this year with some retailers opening their stores on Thanksgiving night to try and lure Christmas shoppers to snap up their bargains.

Of course, we’ve been used to shops opening for business as early as 5am on previous Black Fridays but we’ve never seen a move as controversial as this.

Retailers are obviously keen to make the most of the biggest sales day of the year, particularly when consumers are tightening their belts during the economic slowdown.

But have these earlier opening times deterred shoppers? Has it put retailers in a bad light? Aren’t people demanding that Thanksgiving should remain sacred and free of consumerism? Or that shop staff should be at home enjoying turkey with their loved ones instead? Surprisingly not.

Although there were some small protests at Macy’s last night, it was estimated that over 9,000 people were queuing outside the same Herald Square store, waiting for its midnight opening.

And Toys ‘R’ Us – who brought new meaning to the term ‘early-bird’ by opening as early as 9pm – saw shoppers in their thousands with clever crowd control procedures in place at its stores throughout the US.

There are two things clearly happening here. Retailers are looking for significant growth in sales and consumers are looking for bargains.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is a pretty good indication of how the rest of the festive shopping season will fair. And with families feeling the pinch like never before, retailers will try every trick in the book to get them to part with their cash.

They know people love bargains and that’s why Black Friday has come so early this year.

Although some were clearly concerned that these new opening hours, pushing into Thanksgiving evening, would be unwelcome, it’s a pretty savvy move by the retailers. And early indications show that people welcome the new opening times.

But it’s not over yet. Everyone will be holding his or her breath to see if this weekend’s launch of the retail Christmas season will be a success. Because if it isn’t, retailers will have to slash their prices even further to get their stock out of the door.

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