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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
EDITORIAL: Heightened tension over face masks

Incidents of anger and conflicts over mandated masks happening too frequently

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June, 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Okanagan-Shuswap real estate market continues hot start to 2021

Sales in February were up more than 100 per cent over last year, reports the Association of Interior Realtors

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A protest has been planned for March 5, 2020 over Penticton council’s decision to reject an application from BC Housing to keep an emergency winter shelter open over a year longer than originally planned. (Jesse Day - Western News)
‘Bring your tent’: Protest planned in Penticton’s Gyro Park over winter shelter closure

Protesters plan to show council ‘what the result of their decision will look like’

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki responded to BC Housing minster David Eby’s remarks that the city has put themselves at risk of creating a tent city Wednesday, March 3, 2020. (Western News file photo)
Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’

Council recently rejected BC Housing’s request to keep a winter shelter open longer than first planned

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read