Shoppers rush to grab electric griddles and slow cookers on sale for $8 shortly after the doors opened at a J.C. Penney story in this file photo from Las Vegas on November 23, 2012. (Julie Jacobson/The Canadian Press/AP)Jacobson

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Chaotic images of people clamouring to be the first through the doors to get their hands on hot deals have become synonymous with Black Friday in recent years.

However, the one-day shopping frenzy at malls and stores following American Thanksgiving may be on the decline as some consumers and retailers start to shun the tradition by either opting out entirely or turning to internet shopping instead.

“In the ’70s and ’80s if you wanted to distinguish yourself as a company you would participate in this event,” said Markus Giesler of York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

“Today it’s the exact other way around.”

Online fashion retailer ModCloth, for example, announced this year that its website would shut down on Black Friday and the company would donate US$5 million worth of merchandise to a non-profit organization.

“It’s been fun, Black Friday. You had the deals and the steals, but this year we’re looking for the feels,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Outdoor retailer REI, on the other hand, has closed its stores on Black Friday for the past two years, given their employees a paid day off, and encouraged people to partake in a new tradition and head outside instead.

These brands are mimicking a consumer shift away from mass consumption, said Giesler.

Once fringe activist movements like Buy Nothing Day — an anti-consumerism protest held on the same day as Black Friday — have seeped into the mainstream as more people embrace minimalism and choose conscious consumption.

“My neighbours left and right would unsurprisingly now say, ‘You know, we no longer do the mall thing. We no longer do the Black Friday thing,’” said Giesler.

Last year, Thanksgiving weekend sales in stores in the U.S. were down 4.2 per cent, while foot traffic fell 4.4 per cent, according to data from RetailNext, a retail analytics firm.

Two factors seemed to have altered how people view Black Friday, said JoAndrea Hoegg, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

Sales now last about a week, rather than being a single-day event, she said, and the internet has given consumers the ability to find great deals year round.

“(There) seems to be less of an urgency about the purchases,” she said. “It’s sort of less of a hype that this is the one day of the year — this and Boxing Day — that you can really, you know, get that fantastic deal.”

Still, she believes the shopping spree remains popular, especially online.

American consumers spent US$30.39 billion online between Nov. 1 and 22, according to Adobe Analytics data, which covers 80 per cent of transactions made with the country’s 100 largest e-retailers. That’s up nearly 18 per cent from the same timeframe last year.

As of 5 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving day, the company said Americans already spent nearly 17 per cent more than they did last year, shelling out $1.52 billion online.

For shoppers not interested in the social aspect of Black Friday shopping, online purchases make much more sense, Hoegg said.

“You don’t have to deal with the crowds and the deals are, by and large, just as good.”

Certain industries in particular are experiencing a Black Friday renaissance online, said Giesler, highlighting that technology firms are known to offer “legendary” sales.

Shoppers looking to buy an Amazon Alexa, a Phillips Hue system, a Nest thermostat or other trendy technology, he said, scour the internet for Black Friday deals.

“I may not go for the big-box television flat screen at Best Buy,” Giesler said. “But I may go to Amazon, I may go to Nest or to Ecobee to buy myself a little bit of technology.”

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Senior randomly stabbed in Abbotsford mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Fentanyl-laced meth and phones seized after second prison drone drop

A pre-Christmas drone drop was followed by a second incident in Abbotsford on Dec. 30

Union files human rights complaint over Chilliwack school trustee’s LGBTQ comments

Board and trustee Barry Neufled facing $50,000 tribunal charge over alleged ‘unsafe work environment’

Three companies added to city’s water plant lawsuit

Abbotsford suing companies that designed Norrish Creek water plant for damage from flooded in 2015

Cops arrest man who pepper sprayed them while fleeing

Robert Orr charged with assaulting police officer

VIDEO: Week in Review — Jan. 13

The top stories of the week

Pipeline routing through Chilliwack subject of NEB hearing Monday

City of Chilliwack, WaterWealth Project and local Sto:lo intervenors in the hearing

Stealth work OT, come through with first win

Joel McCready nets winner, Eric Penney makes 52 saves as Vancouver knocks off Buffalo

VIDEO: Southern schemes on stage in Langley

The farce of “The Foreigner”

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Vancouver Island marijuana producer bought by Aphria in $230M deal

Aphria’s annual production forecast increases to 230,000 kgs

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Fraser Valley truck driver killed in Alberta semi truck crash

Young driver was adjusting load on side of highway to Fort McMurray

Drivers urged to slow down during Alex Fraser Bridge construction

Work crews are installing a snow removal system and movable counterflow lane

Most Read