It’s verbal shorthand for what we hear most after talk of stuffing or feeling stuffed. We are all secretly obsessed with those who dare to face the crowds for the biggest sales of the year on Black Friday. Those who stay home justify their position with ‘crowd anxiety’ as an acceptable excuse or Cyber Monday as Plan B. Whatever works for you is fine with me. We’re all planning for the holidays and most people function best when sticking with tradition.
So, I ask you…do you fight the fight for those additional savings on Black Friday? Do you pretend to shop for others and secretly stock up on goodies for yourself? Are there specific retailers that you’re obligated to stand in line for that extra savings? I’d love to know. While I myself cannot face the crowds, the mess, the chaos that ensues at any store, I respect those of you willing to jump right in and relish in it.
I have a daughter who’d leave turkey on her plate if someone were willing to drive her to the mall. I’m fairly certain that she’d be fine waiting in line for the stores to open for that additional 40% off…just to prove she could. My compromise with her is that we finish our meal, enjoy family time, help clean up and sleep in our own beds. I will give her some spending money and drop her at the mall on Friday only after I’ve attempted to sleep in, had my coffee, and a shower. She’s thrilled at the freedom to choose her purchases and I’m relieved at the opportunity to give up control. Imagine that.
But what I’ve found most interesting about these retailers offering deep discounts and promotions is that now everyone is fighting to get their sale items sold first. Let’s break this down:
Black Friday is for retail stores (at the mall) and big box chains to push through inventory
Small Shop Saturday is for boutique brick and mortar shops to offer special savings to their loyal community
Cyber Monday is for the e-commerce websites to stay competitive (if that’s even possible)
There’s a great article online at The Week that explains the history of Black Friday. You can read it in its entirety here. In a nutshell, the name became popular in the 50’s when so many employees failed to show up for work on the Friday after Thanksgiving. “It only took on a positive ring in the '80s, when some shop owners pointed out that the profitable post-Thanksgiving rush put "black ink" on their balance sheets for the first time all year.” Makes sense to me.
But here’s the small issue I pondered while in my pajamas and sipping my third cup of coffee on Friday afternoon. Clearly the big boxes were offering crazy discounts if you were willing to arrive before the paper boy. Expected. However, when I began my daily surf of Instagram and Facebook, I started noticing small e-commerce companies also promoting Black Friday discounts. Hmmm? Fair? I wasn’t sure.
As a small business owner of an e-commerce website, I immediately felt left out as if I had already lost valuable customers. My rule-following disposition quickly launched into, ‘that’s not entirely fair…they’re kind of cheating.’ But are they? By Saturday, I noticed some of these same retailers were also promoting Small Shop Saturday sales. Having already started promoting my Cyber Monday deals – I wasn’t about to pre-empt my own strike. Then again, I was already feeling like I was riding on the sales-train caboose. Possibly more customers lost.
So what’s a small business supposed to do? Jump on the bandwagon of offering sales earlier than we’re legitimately supposed to in order to capture potential customers? Or stay the course, follow the rules, and only offer discounts that coincide with the type of business we have? I guess the bottom line (pardon the pun) is whether or not we would be positively impacting our bottom line by offering small, black, cyber sales.