Here’s Why Black Friday Will Be a Bust This Year
Life + Money

Here’s Why Black Friday Will Be a Bust This Year

REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

Black Friday, the day retailers celebrate as one of the busiest in the holiday calendar, is losing its appeal this year and won’t be the shopping frenzy retailers count on. 

That spells trouble for brick and mortar stores, which are already suffering from lackluster sales this fall. 

Seven in ten Americans are unimpressed by Black Friday discounts, while the same number say shopping isn’t as fun as it used to be, according to Conlumino, a retail analysis firm. And three of five report that they would rather shop online than fight crowds and stress at stores.

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“I think that while people will engage with Black Friday, still much of this tends to be habitual rather than because they are really inspired by it,” writes Conlumino CEO Neil Saunders in an email. “This will be unwelcome news for many retailers that are pinning their hopes on a robust Black Friday to boost sales and clear inventory.” 

Half of those surveyed by Conlumino also say that Black Friday is too much work for little benefit and the promotions are less generous than previous years. Nearly the same percentage believe shops shouldn’t open on Thanksgiving Day. 

As excitement surrounding Black Friday drops off, so does the money that people spend. Shoppers on average spent $403.84 last year over Thanksgiving weekend, down from $409.73 in 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. That trend could continue. Forty-five percent of shoppers surveyed by Conlumino plan to spend less on Black Friday than last year. Only 18 percent plan to spend more.

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The prospect of a gloomy Black Friday will likely worsen the mood of retailers, which are also digesting disappointing October sales. The Commerce Department reported on Friday that retail sales rose only 0.1 percent last month after economists had predicted a 0.3 percent rise.  

Many large retailers, like Nordstrom, Macy’s and Kohl’s, also reported disappointing third-quarter earnings this week. Analysts attribute the weak sales to online shopping and the warmer-than-usual weather, which has hurt fall and winter clothes buying.

Overall, holiday sales will depend on lower gas prices, Saunders said in a separate report. “Without these, the consumer economy will quickly lose much of its firepower,” he predicted.