Black Friday. Whether you love to hate it or hate to love it, it’s an undoubtedly iconic American holiday. But the charm of the one-day super-sale seems to be fading as Cyber Monday gains popularity as the way to get deals without setting an alarm for 2 a.m.
Only a few years ago, the time for people to find the best holiday deals was the Friday after Thanksgiving. Shoppers would haul themselves out of bed before sunrise and make the trip to their local retail stores where they would revel in the “half-price” and “buy one, get two” sales.
Early mornings soon became late nights, and it didn’t take long for some Americans to find themselves missing Thanksgiving dinners in order to snatch that new flat-screen on Thanksgiving day.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island remained firmly against the Thursday openings, but shoppers still flocked to Emerald Square and Providence Place, among other sites, for the 12:01 a.m. Friday onslaught.
Then there was Cyber Monday.
Though the phrase ‘Cyber Monday’ was coined in 2005, the second-tier shopping holiday only recently started gaining massive popularity. No longer did bargain-hunters need to travel to the stores in winter coats, now they could find deals in the comfort of their pajamas at home.
Shoppers jumped on board. A 2017 poll shows that 71 percent of consumers say they’ll shop on Cyber Monday, compared to 69 percent who say they’ll shop on Black Friday.
A 2 percent difference doesn’t seem too bad for Black Friday, but it proves Americans are catching onto online trends, and seem to be hanging up their scarves and hats in favor of robes and a laptop.
But are the sales really as good online as they are in-store?
Jon Vincent, founder of the website ‘Early Black Friday,’ seems to think so.
“Ninety-five percent of the sales online are going to be as good as the sales in-store,” he says.
Vincent has observed the trends of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for years through EarlyBlackFriday.com, which congregates all of the Black Friday sales into one place, offering consumers a way to avoid researching all of their favorite retailers separately.
Though most of the sales will be the same, Vincent indicated there are some items that one might be better off bearing the cold outside to buy.
“Bigger items, such as TVs and other electronics, have better in-store sales,” he says. “But stores are really pushing the online sales now to try and combat Amazon.”
Amazon, the world-dominating online retailer that can have items at your doorstep in less than 24 hours, is also gaining momentum in the holiday sale game.
Amazon will start offering early access to deals for their paid Prime membership customers on Thanksgiving. After that, it will start rolling out its other hard-to-beat deals throughout December.
Amazon’s “12 Days of Deals” starting in December is sure to give other retailers a run for their money. Amazon ended up with 38 percent of the holiday sales last year, and it is determined to not lose that title.
“The sale periods are also getting longer,” Vincent says. “Sales are lasting the whole week of Black Friday, both online and in-store.”
Stores are also working harder to get word of their sales out.
“Ten years ago, stores would get mad when their holiday sales were leaked,” Vincent said. “Now, they’re leaking them to us.”
In the lead this year seems to be Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart and Target, with a variety of sales on everything from clothes to TVs. Notably, Best Buy is offering up to $250 off of MacBook Pro laptops, a product that is not often discounted.
Despite online deals and Cyber Monday offering such great alternatives to the early-morning pandemonium, Vincent says Black Friday probably isn’t going to peter out anytime soon.
“Some of the people we’ve talked to said they just like the crowds,” he says. “In general, the people just really like going into the stores for shopping.”
Susan Burns, 54, from Mansfield, is one of those shoppers.
“I have to say, it was really fun going,” she said of her past trips to Target on Thanksgiving day in search for deals on toys for her son. “I feel like by shopping online I’m kind of missing out.”
As fun as her trips might have been, Burns said she plans to skip the Black Friday madness this year.
“It was great, but it did feel like you had to grab things that you otherwise wouldn’t, just because of the sales,” she said. “And then you end up returning them later.”
Paige Oliveira, 17, also of Mansfield, says she enjoys the chaos of Black Friday.
“For me, it’s an experience,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, but it’s a part of our culture, and it’s fun to get your hands dirty.”
Oliveira hopes Black Friday continues to remain an in-store holiday, and doesn’t become completely overshadowed by Cyber Monday.
“Shopping in stores is such a unique experience,” she says. “Being able to touch things and hold things is great, and it’s kind of fun to get up early.”