With tech sites all posting articles about the best deals that they’ve found across the internet, it seems that Cyber Monday is becoming quite the popular event. However there is some debate about its takeover of Black Friday. According to USA Today’s article, there will be a decrease from 2013’s 131 million shoppers to 127 million. Brick and mortar stores such as Best Buy are using a variety of tactics to get customers into their stores. For example, instituting price matching programs in order to incentivize customers to not ‘window shop’ at their stores is just one way that Best Buy is hoping to compete against Amazon and other online retailers.
Still, even with internet purchases increasing every year, we still see the familiar Black Friday sales all over. This year was the first time I noticed that stores were opening their doors at 5pm on Thanksgiving day to get crowds inside even earlier (Though Massachusetts and a handful of other states are standing firm with blue laws, barring stores from opening so early). I witnessed a crowd of people in a line which wrapped around a Best Buy location here in Boston at 4:00pm on Thanksgiving—9 hours before the store opened its doors.
Maybe there’s something about having the product in hand, that day, that appeals to people. Perhaps some of the purchases aren’t for holiday gift-giving, but for personal consumption, explaining a desire to ‘have it now’. But as TechCrunch’s article explains, online sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday surpassed $1 Billion and $1.5 Billion respectively. Clearly all of this money isn’t going to online-only retailers such as Amazon, as retail stores are trying to address the increase in online holiday spending.
Inventory control is reason enough for stretching Cyber Monday to Cyber Weekend, Week, Month, (Year?). You’d have a greater chance of getting that Tickle-Me Elmo on ToysRUs.com than fighting in the retail stores. Since each store’s demand is estimated, each stores’ inventory of the giggling stuffed red Sesame Street icon is finite. Online sales can help this problem by using more centralized inventory and distribution.
With all of this in mind, if I had to take a guess, I would say that Cyber Monday will continue to take over Black Friday sales, and our already shifting trend in retail shopping towards online will be present in online Black Friday and Thanksgiving deals. Brick and mortar deals probably won’t disappear, as it’s the loss leaders that pull in the crowds and increase sales. But we may see less deals in store as we do online in the near future. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I should go grab my spot for next year outside of Best Buy. After all, the early bird gets the 55” LED TV!