Seems as if every year, I take a few minutes to reflect on Black Friday sales.
I myself, am not a Black Friday shopper. I just personally do not have any interest in fighting the crowds for those kinds of deals. Best of luck to those of you that do. From a marketing perspective, I am certainly intrigued by it – just not enough to fend for my safety to score the latest electronic device or the coolest new shoes.
Am I jaded? Maybe. From my experience in this industry, I know more than anything, Black Friday is nothing but the biggest marketing campaign that retailers attempt all year…maybe outside of political elections. The prices are inflated before discounting to make consumers believe they are getting the “best deals of the year.”
And this year, sales were down 11%. Some analysts expected spending to be up this year with declining gas prices. Wrong! Gas prices are down, yes – and I know we are all thankful for that – but utility costs are up, healthcare costs are up (reportedly up over 36% this year), and while we have seen real estate recovery from a purchasing perspective, which is not without investment, and simultaneously, rental prices have not slipped since the real estate downturn.
So, is it a reflection of the marketing? Nope. The consumers were there. They came out – on Thanksgiving Day no less, to find those deals. Were the deals good enough? Maybe. Did they have the money… that’s a split call, but we haven’t seen a minimum wage increase in this country in years.
Something prevented the sales, and consumers are putting their money in other places. Home improvement expenditures are big right now, and car sales have rebounded to great levels. I guess it isn’t enough.
Is it possible American’s just becoming more aware? Is it a lack of impulse purchases? All good questions to be studied, but in my opinion, we have continued to move to a more digitized lifestyle. We did see increases of 8% on Cyber Monday this year. This tells me that it is not the short-term marketing for the Black Friday Event as much as it is awareness for companies, products, services, etc. that shape long-term profits. It is a marathon, not a sprint.