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Black Friday may not be dying, but it is changing

Posted: 8:16 PM, Nov 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-23 12:33:30Z

DENVER, Coloradio — Times are changing for the biggest shopping day of the year, and it’s not just store opening times. So KMGH television station in Denver decided to look into the changing face of the “holiday” after the holiday.

Traditional Black Friday is still going on

All you have to do is look online or in stores to find signs and ads for the multitude of doorbuster deals.

In fact, more and more people have shopped on Black Friday over the last five years, and people are expected to spend about 4 percent more this year on holiday shopping, according to the National Retail Federation.

“It is fun to just be in line and literally run through the store and literally grab that one item,” shopper Katie Hilton said.

It’s a tradition for some, a hunt for mega-deals for others, and both for some die-hard shoppers.

“The thrill of the chase, it’s fun. If there’s something you want and a great deal and you grab it or your daughter does, it’s fun,” she said.

Dwindling lines?

But over the last few years, the scenes of massive crowds, lines winding blocks long, and people fighting over treasured deals seem to happen less and less.

This year there will be fewer big box stores in existence on Black Friday. Toys-R-Us, Radio Shack, Sears have all gone out of business.

KMGH asked University of Denver Associate Professor of Marketing Ali Besharat if fewer stores like the ones above could lead to shorter lines.

“I hope so and I hope that transition happens over time,” he said.

Time with family vs. time in line

Besharat is referring to how much time people spend waiting to get deals at a brick and mortar store, in many cases on the actual Thanksgiving holiday.

Over the last few years, competing stores have moved opening times earlier and earlier. In 2018, many like Best Buy and Target opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. JCPenny opened at 2 p.m.

KMGH’s Jason Gruenauer spoke with his personal Black Friday expert, his mom, to weigh in on this part of the debate.

“Black Friday is not Black Friday anymore. It’s turned into Black Thursday. And you have to go shopping on a holiday and that’s terrible,” Cheryl Gruenauer said.

Early deals water it down

The demand for Black Friday sales has pushed some stores to offer deals early, meaning fewer people have to wait in line for Thursday or Friday to come.

Last year, Cabelas savings could be found two weeks ahead of time. And you didn’t have to wait if you wanted a TV at Costco.

“I don’t want to deal with the crowds or get up at 2 a.m.,” one shopper told us.

Big box to small biz

If the “big box” retailers aren’t your thing, the so-called “antithesis of Black Friday” happens just hours later. The push to support and buy local has pushed some shoppers to do their holiday buying on Small Business Saturday.

“This is the community. It’s businesses like this that create the atmosphere that you want to be in,” a holiday shopper at the Stanley Marketplace told KMGH.

The biggest threat

Likely the largest reason that traditional Black Friday is changing comes from the internet. The invisible lines of online shopping and Cyber Monday are making major waves.

“We’ve seen less and less in-store traffic every year for the last several years. It truly is the Amazon effect,” marketing professor Darrin Duber-Smith of Metro State University said.

In fact, multiple retail surveys showed more than half of consumers say their holiday shopping will be done online.

“The comfort of your own home and looking at the screen, comparing deals, looking at prices and reviews for that product,” Ali Besharat explained.

Speed of evolution

Whether it is the size of the line, the time of the opening or the migration to small business or online, the definition of Black Friday is changing. But experts say it’s slow moving.

“Over time absolutely the effect of it will be washed down and mitigated over time,” Besharat said.