Black Friday typically kicks off the Christmas shopping season in stores. Retailers open extra early and shoppers are lined up at 3:00 AM waiting to score those early bird specials. However, this has become a less frequent occurrence since the Internet began to cut into traditional Christmas shopping routines. It doesn’t take a master’s degree in economics to recognize e-commerce is certainly having an effect on the way people do their shopping.
The biggest reason people are staying away from the Black Friday crowds is that the deals online are just as good, if not better than what you can find in the stores. Customers who go out of their way to do their shopping on Black Friday simply want to get the best deals possible. If that bargain is available elsewhere, what’s the point of lining up to shop in the middle of the night with a mob of other rowdy customers?
So, how exactly are retailers faring online? According to industry numbers, 84 million people logged on to do their shopping in November and December of last year. It’s estimated the number will rise another 9 to 16 percent this year. Retailers seem to be doing quite well for themselves marketing online.
Why are customers shopping online instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores? Convenience is cited as a major reason, as well as getting great deals over the course of the whole winter shopping season. Internet deals tend to be going on all the time, rather than being limited to just one day. It’s easier for shoppers to find what they want and get great deals at 3:00 AM or whenever, and in their pajamas to boot, instead of having to brave the cold.
Retailers and online businesses are taking advantage of this by pushing ahead with “Black Friday” deals before the actual Friday after Thanksgiving. For example, Amazon is holding an entire week of deals ahead of Black Friday. For other retailers and small businesses, competing with Amazon’s model might not be feasible, but there are ways to leverage the business model. Stores can hold a “countdown,” offering a better deal each day leading up to the actual Black Friday event, creating somewhat of a buzz by using the Internet.
Another factor that can’t be discounted is the influence of online deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. An estimated 39 percent of online shoppers will search for deals this winter using these types of sites that offer discounts on local attractions.
Black Friday may still appeal to those who want to get that one must-have item, but more and more people are seeing the advantages of shopping online. As retailers notice this trend increasing, it’s only more likely online deals are going to get better and better while location-based retail declines. Consumers will buy with the cheapest and most convenient method out there, and the Internet has proved to be the best tool to accomplish that goal.
About the Author
Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.