Black Friday – Splurge Now, Pay Later

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday cutting short the upcoming trading week on Wall Street, many investors have their hopes pinned on major retailers raking in the money as millions of consumers throw caution to the wind and cash in on specials offered on this day. Black Friday is an American tradition which takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving, so-named because it drags a large number of retailers out of the red and into the black financially speaking. Many of these retailers rely on Black Friday sales to keep their heads above water, while retailing giants take advantage of the phenomenon to capture as much of those consumer dollars as possible. Competition is fierce and consumers who have the patience and pushiness to survive the Black Friday rush are likely to come away with that coveted item at a bargain price.

Analysts and economists are predicting that Black Friday 2010 will attracts as many as 138 million shoppers nationwide, being a 3 percent increase over 2009. Although only a guesstimate based on history, the current job market and other factors, it has given many retailers hope, and if accurate, will serve as a boost to economic recovery.

Many retailers are opening stores on Thanksgiving night, hoping to attract shoppers to their stores first. Toys R Us are opening its stores nationwide at 22:00 on Thanksgiving night. A spokesman for the toy market giant noted that this move was to try and alleviate the rush of shoppers as the doors open on Black Friday morning, which some see as an attempt to appear altruistic, while in reality it boils down to having first dibs on consumer dollars. So called ‘door-buster’ deals favor consumers who have held onto their position in the queue to ensure being among the first through the doors as they open. This may mean camping out overnight on the sidewalk of the shopper’s chosen store, which a surprising number of shoppers are willing to do.

It appears that Wal-Mart has decided to join the growing ranks of cyber retailers by offering free online shipping on 60,000 items, with no minimum purchase required – jumping the queue and starting on Thanksgiving Day. This offer does, however, have restrictions in that it excludes a range of electronic goods and other high-demand items. While retailers try to keep their Black Friday strategies secret to prevent competitors taking countermeasures, news travels fast on the worldwide web and keeping secrets is becoming ever more difficult to do. For example, it has been leaked on the internet that Target will be offering a range of appliances at $3, while offering up to 50 percent off selected items including clothes and toys. The discount giants were reportedly planning to make this known via a flyer-campaign on Thanksgiving day.

This year the Black Friday tradition is set to travel beyond the borders of the United States, as Amazon opens up a floodgate of deep-discounted items to shoppers in the United Kingdom. While retailers, both online and in-store, await Black Friday with eager anticipation, some analysts have noted that expectations may be dashed as many consumers lack confidence in the ability of the economy to recover, and are likely to rein in their spending despite all the marketing hype urging them to splurge now, pay later.