Black November to Stir the Anti-Christmas Pot

Black Friday is dead and everyone knows it. The fact that holiday shopping “door-buster” sales now kick off Thanksgiving morning is not exactly tradition — and retailers may never give it time to become such. The truth is that Black Friday is now really Black November — a full month or more of serious price promotions to kick start holiday shopping.

This is the real menace of retail people are talking about. This is the real Christmas creep. And it is about to become a part of the conversation in the so-called War on Christmas.

Late-night, early morning and even 24-hour shopping have become so common that many retailers believe they must stay open nearly all the time to keep up with their competitors, reports Richard Feinberg, Purdue professor of retail management.

With consumer pocketbooks stretched thin, shoppers will be looking for deals, according to Feinberg. That means most of the large, non-luxury retailers will be offering heavy promotions and constant sales. Retailers will rely on “flash” and limited-time sales because they create a sense of urgency and shoppers respond to them. Shoppers will also see more signs of holiday creep as “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving that used to mark the first day of the Christmas shopping season – has transformed into “Black November.”

Black Friday backed further into Thanksgiving in 2013, as stores including Target, Younkers, Sears and J.C. Penney opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, and others even earlier. Walmart, open 24 hours, released Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and sold some Black Friday merchandise as early as Nov. 1.

For stores that were open, shoppers followed, with 45 million people shopping online or in stores on Thanksgiving 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up from 35 million in 2012 and 29 million in 2011.

The sad truth despite these facts? Sales were DOWN for what is called “Black Friday” — by 2.9 percent.

The other sad truth is that many people protest now the presence of Christmas-themed shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Workers threaten to strike, campaigns to boycott retailers on Thanksgiving are launched and editorials run amok with anti-Christmas rhetoric.

It isn’t so much about Christmas, really. But Christmas gets blamed for creating the frenzy and urging retailers to “sell, sell, sell” in an effort to generate more revenue than they did the year before.

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