Monday, November 19, 2007


Shining light on 'Black Friday'
Web sites give preview of Friday sales

November 19, 2007
By David Sharos Special to The Sun
As the holiday season races toward us, millions will be poised once again to hit the streets the day after Thanksgiving - traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. It's been dubbed "Black Friday" - the one where retail stores and businesses allegedly rake in so much money, it puts their businesses back "in the black."

The Internet has already gotten the jump on holiday shopping - which could prove to be a time- and money-saving bonus for consumers. Web sites like and are already carrying "leaked" information - ads for Sears, Macy's and other stores which give buyers a heads-up on what will be on sale before the "Black Friday" newspaper ads hit the streets.

John Vincent, founder of the Boston-based said the preview information is conveyed to his site through various channels and believes it provides consumers with a lot of useful information.

"When ads get sent to print agencies, we sometimes get them sent to us through insiders or from the company doing the ad," Vincent said. "We'll also get tips from people who work at the stores. They might tell us they normally carry 20 boxes of a certain item, and suddenly there are 200 the next day in the stock room. It's obvious stores are gearing up for a big sale."

Vincent believes the benefits of preview shopping on the Internet involve saving time as well as money.

"For one thing, people can plan their holiday shopping. We have a feature on our site that allows you to make a list of the places and sales you are interested in seeing," he said. "The other benefit is that many of these items go on sale on line Thanksgiving Day, so you can buy them right over the Internet."

John Simley, a spokesman for the national retailer Wal-Mart, said his company has taken a new approach this year by deliberately putting out the holiday advertisements early.

"We actually have contacted Web sites who have somehow received our ads and ordered them to cease posting them," Simley said. "If those ads are revealed, we feel it's disruptive. Our approach this year has been to announce our holiday savings earlier."

Maggie Wegmann, vice president of JMC Advertising and Promotions in Naperville, believes the preview ads could be a two-edged sword.

"For consumers, it's certainly a good thing since people don't have to wait until Thanksgiving Day or Friday to see what will be on sale," Wegmann said. "On the other hand, it's kind of a waste for the businesses who have probably designated lots of money in their advertising budgets and the ads are already out there for free on the Web."

Vincent disagreed that money designated for print ads is compromised by having them appear first on the Web.

"There's no question those ads reach a lot more people than we do with our Web site," he said. "A lot of people don't even know we're here."

Simley said when shopping, "consumers should use all the resources they have that are available" but that advertising must be conducted lawfully and respect retailers' rights.

Wegmann said the preview ads could create a vacuum effect in the retail market.

"People can read about a particular item and plan to go and buy it first thing on Friday morning, and by the time they get there, it's all sold out because others knew about it two weeks ago," she said.

Vincent also warned that supplies of items are limited and that big box retailers use these items to lure shoppers into the store hoping they'll buy something anyway.

"You'll see something like a laptop selling for $399, but as it turns out, there are only 20 of them in stock, and they won't be on sale through the Internet," he said. "Unless you're willing to line up at 2 a.m. before the store opens at six, you won't get it."

For Vincent, there's no reason not to save money.

"The fact is there are coupons all over the Internet for virtually everything," he said. "I'd never go shopping or even out to eat without at least doing a quick search."

Black Friday (shopping)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled until November 26, 2007 (UTC) due to vandalism.
If you cannot edit this article and you wish to make a change, you can discuss changes on the talk page, request unprotection, log in, or create an account.

This article addresses the United States shopping event called Black Friday. For other uses, see Black Friday.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Since Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday may be as early as the 23rd and as late as the 29th day of November. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employers give the day off, allowing consumers to get a head start on their Christmas shopping. Retailers often decorate for the Christmas season weeks beforehand. Many retailers open very early (typically 5 A.M.) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term "Black Friday" has been traced back only to the 1970s. "Black Friday" was originally so named because of the heavy traffic on that day, although most contemporary uses of the term refer instead to it as the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit).

The news media frequently refer to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic,[1][2] in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was usually the fifth to tenth busiest day.[3] In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second place.[4] The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of both sales and customer traffic) usually has been the Saturday before Christmas.[5] In 2003 and 2005, however, Black Friday actually did reach first place.[6]

In some cities it's not uncommon to see shoppers lined up hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside the stores shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have only a few of the big draw items. Electronics and popular toys are often the most sought after items and may be sharply discounted. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often will cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began lining up at various stores and providing video of the shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items. Traditionally Black Friday sales were intended for those shopping for Christmas gifts. For some particularly popular items, some shop these sales in order to get deep discounts on items they can then resell, typically online.

1 Origin of the name "Black Friday"
1.1 Stress from large crowds
1.2 Accounting practice
2 Black Friday on the Internet
2.1 Advertising tip sites
2.2 Cyber Monday
3 Buy Nothing Day
4 References

Origin of the name "Black Friday"

Stress from large crowds
The earliest uses of "Black Friday" refer to the heavy traffic on that day, an implicit comparison to the extremely stressful and chaotic experience of Black Tuesday (the 1929 stock-market crash) or other black days. The earliest known references to "Black Friday" (in this sense) are from two newspaper articles from November 29, 1975, that explicitly refer to the day's hectic nature and heavy traffic. The first reference is in an article entitled "Army vs. Navy: A Dimming Splendor," in The New York Times:

Philadelphia police and bus drivers call it "Black Friday" - that day each year between Thanksgiving Day and the Army-Navy game. It is the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year in the Bicentennial City as the Christmas list is checked off and the Eastern college football season nears conclusion.

The derivation is made even more explicit in an Associated Press article entitled "Folks on Buying Spree Despite Down Economy," which ran in the Titusville Herald on the same day:

Store aisles were jammed. Escalators were nonstop people. It was the first day of the Christmas shopping season and despite the economy, folks here went on a buying spree. . . . . "That's why the bus drivers and cab drivers call today 'Black Friday,'" a sales manager at Gimbels said as she watched a traffic cop trying to control a crowd of jaywalkers. "They think in terms of headaches it gives them."

Both articles have a Philadelphia dateline, suggesting the term may have originated in that area.

Accounting practice
Look up in the red, in the black in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.Most contemporary uses of the term focus instead on the theory that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period where retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year's profits (the black). (Retailers' profitability varies, but some retailers are indeed dependent on the holiday season for their profits.) This sense has been traced back to a November 26, 1982, broadcast of ABC News' World News Tonight, which said:

Some merchants label the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday because business today can mean the difference between red ink and black on the ledgers. But this year hefty sales are vital not only to the stores but to the entire economy.

Because the heavy traffic etymology is contemporaneous with the earliest known uses of the term, while the black ink theory apparently was not suggested until several years later, the accounting practice origin is unlikely to be correct.

Black Friday on the Internet

Advertising tip sites
Some websites offer information about Black Friday specials up to a month in advance. The text listings of items and prices are usually accompanied by pictures of the actual ad circulars. These are either leaked by insiders or intentionally released by large retailers to give consumers insight and allow them time to plan.

In recent years, some retailers (including Wal-Mart, Target Corporation, Best Buy, and Staples, Inc.) have claimed that the advertisements they send in advance of Black Friday and the prices included in those advertisements are intellectual property and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Using the take down provision of the DMCA, these retailers have threatened various web sites who post Black Friday prices to the Internet in advance of the intended release date by the retailers. This policy apparently derives from a fear that competitors, in addition to customers, will also have access to this information and use it for competitive advantage. The actual validity of the claim that prices are protected intellectual property is uncertain as the prices themselves (though not the advertisements) might be considered a fact in which case they would not receive the same level of protection as a copyrighted work.

The benefit of threatening Internet sites with a DMCA based lawsuit has proved tenuous at best. While some sites have complied with the requests, others have either ignored the threats or simply continued to post the information under the name of a similar sounding fictional retailer.

===Wal-Mart and Black Friday===

Although Wal-Mart advertises a store opening at 5:00AM Black Friday, the store is open for customers to browse and to secure tickets for special items of limited quantities i.e. laptops, and other heavily advertised items starting at Midnight on Black Friday.

Cyber Monday
Main article: Cyber Monday
The term Cyber Monday, a neologism invented by the National Retail Federation's division, refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, which unofficially marks the beginning of the Christmas online shopping season.

In recent years, Cyber Monday has become a busy day for online retailers, with some sites offering low prices and other promotions on that day. Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is often wrongly said to be the busiest shopping day of the year for online shoppers, although in reality several days later in the holiday shopping season are busier.

Buy Nothing Day
Main article: Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day is organized by Adbusters magazine, intentionally as a counter-act to "Black Friday". Originally organized in Vancouver in September of 1992, in 1997, it was moved to this Friday in North America. Outside of North America, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on the following Saturday. Occasional discussion has pointed out that, because of the anti-action of the event, it is very easy for people who are avoiding shopping on this day to "observe" the protest.

Patrice Walsh (Rochester, N.Y.) - This year there's a twist to the "Black Friday" shopping frenzy. Shoppers can see the sales and compare prices even before the ads hit the newspaper.

Only the serious shoppers venture out the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. This year Wendy Emerson will be one of them.

"I plan on getting up early and going to Sears to get my husband's secret present…it's not for the faint at heart."

The Thanksgiving Day ads are already being printed and will be hot off the presses when the Democrat and Chronicle lands on your doorstop Thursday morning

However, for those who can't wait, seeing those sale ads now is just a click away. Websites like show full page ads from several stores.

Wal-Mart superstore manager Henry Wolfe said the ads are leaked after they're printed. He said, "Anytime you have a chance to have people see your ad, it's a good thing. It's a good deal for the consumer and a good deal for us."

Evelyn Williams won't get near stores on the day after Thanksgiving. She said, "I won't be there healthwise, weather wise or otherwise."

She said the bargains will just have to wait.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40 percent of shoppers started buying holiday gifts before Halloween this year, and on average, will spend about $816 on Christmas and holiday gifts.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home