Study Proves Black Friday’s Decline: Are Consumers Sick of the Hype?

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009

Black Friday started early this year as stores opened their doors (or rather—never closed them) around 5PM on the Thursday of Thanksgiving. But, a new study shows Black Friday’s decline over time. What’s behind the loss of popularity of this formerly trendy shopping day? 

This year Black Friday came early, on Thanksgiving to be exact.

The jump start wasn’t because of early waves of holiday cheer sweeping through the nation, but because retailers are compensating for the economic hit they will most likely suffer this holiday shopping season. For 2013, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than usual. It is estimated retailers make half of their entire yearly income during this time, so every day counts. Due to the truncated time period, retailers are afraid those six days will cause large financial losses. Their strategy? They started Black Friday on Thanksgiving evening—and some stores even controversially stayed open on Thanksgiving, forcing workers to labor on the holiday.

Perhaps all the panic from retailers is warranted when on paper they’ve lost six days of shopping, but was Black Friday in decline already?

A new study, by CFI Group, shows the hype around the bargain-hunting tradition of Black Friday might be on its way out. The study found fewer than 25 percent of people will spend more than half their total holiday shopping during Black Friday.

They also found only 21 percent of Millenials say they will go shopping at all during this time, and nearly half of shoppers nationwide will skip the Black Friday lines completely by having begun their shopping way before Thanksgiving.

“Consumers began their holiday shopping earlier in the season,” said Sheri Petras, CEO of CFI Group. “And as behavior is shifting beyond traditional Black Friday spending, those who focus solely on Black Friday-centric campaigns will miss significant sales opportunities.”

With this season’s retail race making up for lost time, we have to ask ourselves, is the rush really worth it? Consumers trends aren’t leaning towards the cheapest choices anymore. Only one third of shoppers are motivated by sales and coupons and more people are buying experiences as gifts, forgoing more “stuff.”

And, according to the New Yorker, those discounts aren’t as great as we think they are (or used to be): “Black Friday doesn’t even necessarily offer the best discounts, contrary to what retailers want their customers to believe. Rather than selling most merchandise at full price and marking down what doesn’t sell, stores now engineer their prices, so that the “discounted” prices are actually at the level they had wanted all along,” writes Amy Merrick. 

So what was the rush to move Black Friday into Thanksgiving? Maybe it wasn’t worth leaving the dinner tables early this year to partake in a tradition that might be on its way out.



See Also: 

Beyond Black Friday: Neuromarketing, Your Brain and Your Wallet

Vintage Shopping Tips from an Industry Pro

Zady: An Artisan-Powered Platform for Socially Conscious Shopping


image: Michael Holden

Juliette Donatelli

Working in the field of sustainability for over seven years, Juliette is passionate about its intersection within the fashion industry. Juliette began studying ecological conservation, and led consumer awareness campaigns around the world from water usage in southern California, riparian restoration in South Africa, food distribution in Paris and bison habitat in the Great Plains. She has launched her passion--consumerism and sustainability--into a place where it hits home--fashion. Juliette is the founder and editor-in-chief of, Director of Sustainability at Manufacture NY, and loves to read, dance, swim and enjoy the occasional glass of champagne.