Black Friday isn't dead in 2016

Don't you worry: Best Buy, Amazon & the rest will have your cut-rate smartphones, PCs and games available in stores and online

The Black Friday 2016 headlines are dire: 

  • “Black Friday: Is the commercial holiday dying?”

But no, Black Friday isn’t really dead and oodles of computers, smartphones, video game consoles and TVs will be snapped up at bargain prices on Friday, Nov. 25 itself, as well as pre-Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Day and on the Saturdays leading up to Christmas. Oh, yeah, even Cyber Monday will grab stragglers on Nov. 28.

LOOK BACK: 40-plus eye-popping Black Friday tech deals from 2015

The National Retail Federation, a trade group that is naturally a shopping cheerleader, predicts that holiday sales (excluding cars, gas and restaurant sales) will increase 3.6% in November and December to $655.8 billion, which is higher than the past 10-year average of 2.5%. The online portion of sales this season is expected to jump 7%, according to the NRF. The NRF cites good economic momentum for its optimism.

RetailNext, an IoT analytics player, predicts that Black Friday for the first time in many years will be neither the biggest shopping day in terms of sales nor shopper visits, with the Friday before Christmas topping the sales chart and  Dec. 17 (Super Saturday) attracting the most visitors.

“Residual angst” following Election Day could tamp down holiday sales a bit, but RetailNext anticipates a relative quick recovery among shoppers as they get down to the really important matters facing the nation: buying an Xbox or PlayStation VR or whatever else is on their lists (See also: “Big Black Friday prize: Virtual reality gaming systems?”). 

Consultancy Deloitte also is optimistic about the upcoming shopping season, which vendors such as Amazon and even Sears (“Black Friday Now,” Nov. 2-5 for rewards members) will foist upon us as early as possible in November.  In fact, Deloitte expects sales to surpass $1 trillion dollars from November through January. That’s a lotta iPhones and fitness trackers. Deloitte found in its survey of consumers that the average shopper plans to buy 14 gifts this season and that e-commerce sales will rise 19% from a year ago during the November-January period. Visits to big box stores and malls could feel a pinch, and even those that do venture out will first do a bit of “webrooming” – checking out prices online before making in-store purchases, the survey found.

BJ’s Wholesale Club, Lowe’s and plenty of stores this year are savoring a PR boost (I mean, doing right by their employees) by closing their stores on Thanksgiving Day, whereas others such as Best Buy will open up right after you gobble down turkey. REI, somewhat famously now, is also closing on Black Friday, as it preaches for the masses to get outside that day instead. If people start believing the “Black Friday is Dead” headlines, REI could get more company in years to come.

This story, "Black Friday isn't dead in 2016" was originally published by Network World.

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