The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, seems to receive more media hype each year, as it is the unofficial kick off of the holiday season. Markets also pay attention, as Black Friday has historically been an early indicator of consumer demand during the important holiday shopping season. But Black Friday sales estimates have fallen for the past two years, leading to the question, is the weekend after Thanksgiving as impactful as it was in the past? And, should investors be worried?
The Black Friday weekend has been a draw for consumers since the 1950s, but media coverage has picked up steam in recent years, with people braving cold weather, long lines, and short tempers to find the best deals. Contrary to popular headlines discussing the frenzied madness, sales estimates for the Black Friday weekend have actually decreased over the past couple of years. Does this mean that Black Friday shopping is becoming less relevant for consumers?
One driver of lower Black Friday sales relative to history is the wider usage of internet retailers. Online sales have increased over the past decade, so much so that they earned their own discount day — Cyber Monday. This term was originally coined in 2005 when everyone returned to work the Monday after Thanksgiving. Corporate networks used to have much higher speeds than the typical home, and employees still in the Black Friday mindset would go into work and do their holiday shopping online. With broadband internet access widely available now, online sales are no longer dependent on Cyber Monday, though the propensity for online retailers to offer special deals on the day means it continues to be relevant.