With no traffic in my neighborhood and a short shopping list, I decided to head out to the stores and see what I might find on Thanksgiving.

Early real-time figures from the holiday weekend indicate retail sales totaled $23 billion on Black Friday alone. That’s up about 9% from the day after Thanksgiving in 2017.

When I read that there was one sales trend that may have dampened Black Friday sales figures this year, I wasn’t surprised. According to Adobe’s research, for the first time, prices were as low on Thanksgiving Day as they were on Black Friday, taking a bite out of the day’s business.


Lauren Freedman, president, the e-tailing group

As a seasoned shopper, I wouldn’t even think of visiting a store on Black Friday. Thanksgiving should be sacrilegious and reserved for family and football. My hunch was that the deals would be just as strong in subsequent days and much of the product still available on Saturday. With no traffic in my neighborhood and a short shopping list, I decided to head out to the stores and see what I might find.

I was not disappointed as open parking spaces were plentiful and promotions were in abundance as soon as I entered the doors, in most cases. In all instances, lines were minimal (1-2 deep), or better yet, nonexistent, so once again time was on my side. And a quick look at the accompanying signage showed a multi-day focus rather than product designated for single day consumption:

  • Michael’s Stores: Signage upon entering the store that Black Friday Deals were available Thursday-Saturday.
  • Best Buy: Deals, which appear to be part of Cyber Week promotion.
  • Ulta: Black Friday beauty busters sprinkled throughout the store with stock in place on Saturday.
  • Kohl’s: Black Friday Deals Week promotions.
  • Target: Spend $50 and get 20% off coupon followed up with a Saturday/Sunday promotion saving $25 in their Wondershop when you spend $75.

Signage at Best Buy and Michaels

But no need to fret if you missed the chance to save. If my inbox on the Sunday before Cyber Monday was any indication, the deals have been extended from Black Friday or encourage you to start holiday shopping early. The markdowns are plentiful. The offers are rolling in but the positioning remained the same. Here are a few examples that will repeat themselves many times from now until Christmas.

“Last chance” and “final days” messaging was plentiful for the impatient sort. Some, like Lulus, encouraged me to start my Cyber Monday shopping early, and those like Forever 21 highlighted new products for those who frequently visit. All of these approaches reinforced my position that patience is a virtue.

  • Forever 21: Totally New: Doorbuster Items Up To 80% Off
  • Lulus: We Couldn’t Wait: Cyber Monday Starts Now
  • Sur la Table: Final Day: Black Friday up to 75% Off
  • H&M: Extended! 20% off everything + free shipping
  • Steve Madden: Tomorrow? Too late. Today? 40% OFF!!!
  • Macy’s: Did you hear? Cyber Week is on!

While all of this information is surely insightful, what I’m struck by is we have altered shopping behavior forever. All holidays almost become interchangeable. The only constant is there will be a sale every day. We have trained our shoppers that waiting has few consequences. A perfect example of that is the retailers who have opened their stores on Thanksgiving and are now splitting their sales with Black Friday. There are only so many helpings to go around this season, and the pie just keeps getting divided based on the number of “open” days. And for those that close on Black Friday like REI and TJ Maxx, I’m confident they will still be able to make their numbers.


Retailers set sales and profitability goals, refining them throughout the year. As year-end approaches, they know it is imperative that they hit those numbers. They can gauge their performance to date and determine what they will need to deliver for the December crunch time and just like the wine, the promotions will flow.

Retailers seem to rely less on store-only or online-only sales and the writing is on the wall: A sale is a sale, and cannibalizing one channel from another is finally a non-issue. The only constant seems to be that promotions will be in play almost on a year-round basis.

The shopper wins once again and its survival of the fittest for retailers to present the best promotions and to deploy them sparingly and strategically throughout the season.