This year’s traditional, post-Thanksgiving mayhem has been spiked by the COVID pandemic—but retailers are regrouping. With more agile digital tools and strategies, they will continue to create special occasions to celebrate consumer spending.
By the time you read this, the immediate future will be painfully obvious. Most shoppers will have cancelled their post-Thanksgiving plans to pack themselves tightly into retail stores, no matter how big the discounts. It’s another American tradition rocked by this atypical, frustrating year. But all is not lost — not by a long shot. Despite the doom and gloom predictions, retailers have good reason to hope. Black Friday itself will never be the same, but other mechanisms will surely take its place.
Remember that Black Friday as we know it is a relatively recent thing. Yes, the day after Thanksgiving was historically the first day of the Christmas shopping season. But it became a media phenomenon in the mid-2000s, fueled by cable news channels’ hunger for footage of mayhem. (We’re convinced that YouTube and reality TV also had something to do with it.) Before COVID, Black Friday seemed more like a chaotic sporting event than a benchmark for retail profitability.