Will expanded store hours on Black Friday translate into higher sales? With a little more than one week until the kick-off of the year’s biggest shopping season, forecasts vary.
Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and for retailers in a struggling economy it can’t arrive soon enough. And so this year they are pulling out all the stops to lure customers away from home and hearth. While stores in years past opened their doors in the early morning hours, more this year are opening at midnight, and some are even open on Thanksgiving Day or opening Thanksgiving night.
To hear consumers tell it, Thanksgiving is for family and friends, feasting and football. Nearly 90 percent of consumers believe retailers should remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, according to a survey released this week by ConsumerSearch.com. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) think more highly of retailers who give store employees the day off to spend with their families, while 26 percent would rather spend time with friends, family or doing something other than shopping.
These are admirable attitudes, but time will tell if they will stick in the face of sales, bargains and promotions. As retail strategist John Long told Gannett News, “My guess, based on past trends, is we’ll see massive amounts of consumers in stores, even at these earlier hours,” he says. “If you think about it, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. are more convenient than 4 a.m.”
An impressive 61 percent of the 1,003 respondents to the ConsumerSearch.com survey said they will be shopping at some point on Black Friday, 87 percent of whom will be drawn by deals and discounts. Just over a third (37 percent) want to be a part of the day’s excitement, while 30 percent just want to complete their holiday shopping early.
One shopper’s excitement is another’s chaos and commotion which they will do anything to avoid. Those who plan to sit out Black Friday cite crowds (78 percent) and long lines (65 percent) as reasons enough to say home.
Chief marketing officers at the top 100 U.S. retailers expect a modest 2.9 increase in total holiday sales this year, according to a new BDO USA survey. This is in line with the National Retail Federation’s projections that sales this year will rise 2.8 percent to $455.6 billion, a smaller increase than in 2010, when holiday sales increased 5.2 percent to nearly $453 billion.
Retailers, the BDO USA survey found, have tempered their expectations due to the struggling economy and stubbornly high unemployment. Less than half (41 percent) of CMOs expect a sales increase, down from 2010 (52 percent), but 67 percent do expect an increase in total holiday sales.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.