WEST BURLINGTON — Black Friday just isn’t what it used to be.
For years, shoppers would flock to big box stores after Thanksgiving meals with family as Black Friday deals grew earlier and earlier, encroaching on the turkey-centric holiday.
The national shopping holiday, however, has evolved as more and more consumers opt to shop online rather than wade through crowds to get their hands on door-buster deals on electronics.
“Shopping patterns are shifting this year,” said Pat Byrne, director of Target in West Burlington.
Target stores will not be open on Thanksgiving this year, pushing back in-store Black Friday deals to the Fridays from whence they came, as well as expanding the availability of those deals throughout the holiday season.
The Thanksgiving day closure took root in 2020 amidst the pandemic in an effort to discourage people from turning out in large crowds. The threat of COVID-19 has eased since November 2020 thanks to vaccines, but the closure of Target stores on Thanksgiving is here to stay.
Instead, the nationwide chain has adapted its holiday season deals to better align with consumer habits, Byrne said, explaining shoppers this year do not seem to be interested in Black Friday.
Target has embraced this change by starting its Christmas deals ahead of Black Friday, but that’s not to say that Target won’t have Black Friday sales specifically for Friday.
“I think we are going to see both (people shopping before Black Friday and on Black Friday),” Byrne said. “A great deal of planning goes into the whole holiday season.”
One big change that can be attributed to COVID-19 is that shoppers may opt for making their Christmas purchases online instead of in stores, prompting some stores to offer online deals before Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Bryrne said one thing that has not changed much is what shoppers are looking for on Black Friday.
Electronics, especially televisions and gaming systems, have always been a key staple of Black Friday shopping. This year, those who are interested in buying gaming consoles must purchase them online first and then pick them up in stores.
Other often-purchased Black Friday items include toys, kitchen items and Christmas tree decorations, whereas clothing tends to not be as widely sought after.
Across the street from Target, Bath and Body Works, located inside Westland Mall, has extended its signature buy-three-get-three sale throughout the week.
“It was kind of a last minute decision,” a spokesperson for the West Burlington store said.
Other deals at Bath and Body Works will include the ability to buy a $40 tote that includes $115 worth of products if the shopper has already spent $40 in the store. A free gift also will be given out.
Black Friday history and statistics
According to BlackFriday.com, a site launched in 2006 to help shoppers navigate the myriad of deals offered by companies on the day after Thanksgiving, the term Black Friday first arose in 1960s as a slang term created by police officers in Philadelphia for what the day brought each year.
All officers had to work that day as they needed to juggle directing traffic from those attending the Army vs. Navy football game and protecting stores from those who wanted to take advantage of the chaos of day-after-Thanksgiving sales to walk away with things they didn’t pay for.
There were attempts to rebrand Black Friday to “Big Friday,” but none of them stuck.
The week after Thanksgiving came to include a number of other days that were added later on, including Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, to increase traffic in those sectors of shopping.
According to BlackFriday.com, some surveys suggest Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving, may be more popular among shoppers than Black Friday.
In 2012, Giving Tuesday was launched to encourage those around the world to make donations of their money or time to charity.
According to the Giving Tuesday website, 13% of Americans participate in the event and more than $2 billion in charitable donations were given in 2020 alone, with half of participants giving monetarily. Other participants included 7 million Americans who volunteered that day and 9 million Americans donated goods.