Last year, Black Friday prompted some soul searching and personal justification for braving the well-known craziness that ensues the day after Thanksgiving. Deep rooted in childhood memories and family tradition, I braved the long lines and constant confrontation that comes with the iconic American shopping day. However, this year there have been a growing number of changes that, once again, prompted me to reevaluate my holiday shopping plans.
First realm of reflection was looking back over the last twelve months and seeing how my shopping habits had evolved. A family of two full-time working adults and two children under age 10 leaves little room for free time. It also prompts constant changing needs to shop for; changing seasons, sudden growth spurts and an overwhelming demand for personal time have led us to drastically change the way we shop. My story is not an uncommon one. The United States is in a stage of rapid growth economically, with the middle class seeing large resurgence since the financial crash of 2009. Also, with the generational shift taking over the workforce, single income households have been on a steady decline amongst married couples and families. In fact, Pew Research shows that between 1960 and 2012 dual income households rose from 25 percent to 65 percent.
With this revolution comes reflection upon family values, with personal family time becoming more important than ever. Personally, this has been the biggest driving force for significantly changing the way I have shopped. Retailers are getting hip to the needs of their changing consumers. Kroger, a national grocery chain here in the United States, launched “Click List” shopping in 2017. By going online and adding all your grocery needs to a virtual cart and paying online, you are essentially saving hours spent weekly roaming the aisles of the grocery store. You simply select a pick-up time that works for you, arrive in the parking lot, call a number located on a conveniently placed sign to your reserved parking space and pop your trunk! An attendant is out within minutes with your cart of groceries and happily loads them into your trunk for you. The idea of not even leaving my car to get a full week’s worth of groceries has changed my life, and my thinking when it comes to convenience and saving time. Things as simple as ordering my morning coffee have now become even easier, placing my Starbucks order on their app and paying via my mobile device ahead of time has me in and out in a matter of minutes!
In saying all this, U.S. retailers have been determined to become innovative outside of traditional shopping. One tactic many U.S. retailers have adopted over the years is beginning Black Friday on Thursday evening. This has remained a controversial action. Many people believe Thanksgiving to be a very family oriented holiday here in the U.S., bringing together generations in a single household and enjoying a hearty meal, with plenty of laughs and memories. The holiday is also a day off for the majority of employees, prompting controversy in forcing retail employees to work during these times. The last few years have seen retailers take stances in refusing to go along with this new “Black Thursday” trend. It has also seen consumer boycotts and backlash on opening during a time that should be reserved for family holiday dinners.
Black Friday remains a major shopping holiday in America but Cyber Monday has become just as popular, and amongst many consumers – heavily preferred. In fact, even though Thanksgiving, and thus Black Friday, are an American focused holiday, there is a similar global shopping day that is done exclusively online. This day, dubbed Singles’ Day, is celebrated on November 11th and is almost five times as big as Black Friday in terms of sales. Retailers earned a whopping $38.2 billion on Singles’ Day in 2017, compared to Black Friday’s earnings of $7.9 billion. The event has gained so much traction over the years they extended it to two full days! Exclusively online shopping days have proven, across the globe, their ability to be incredibly successful.
Black Friday, in many ways, has now become so commercialised and so far removed from the holiday family values that consumers are simply opting out in partaking. I, myself, have made the decision to not participate in Black Friday shopping; bringing an end to the tradition I have enjoyed for the last 20 years. Bringing myself to the reality that everything I need or want out of my holiday shopping can be accessed from home. My computer and couch now offer all the shopping I need, right from home. E-commerce has been a booming industry for decades and shows no signs of slowing down. Many times, e-commerce offers me more flexibility and vastly more options for my shopping needs.
More importantly it offers me saved time, time to spend with my family and time that seems to become scarcer as life continues to go on.