Warren Shoulberg Blog: Black … and Blue Friday

       

       

Get ready, dear friends, we’re about to enter the Most Wonder-What-Happened Time of the Year. Just three days away and counting—that mutha’ of all shopping days. The day when you separate the stores from the bores.
It’s Black Friday … or as I like to call it, Black and Blue Friday. First off, Black Friday is about the stupidest name for something I think I’ve ever heard. Way back when, it’s origin was supposed to be that this was the day when retailers moved their profit-and-loss paperwork from red (losing money) to black (making money).
What a bunch of nonsense. Can you image what would happen to the president of a company that lost money for the first 330 days of the year? He would not be around for day 331.
The consumer, meanwhile, thinks Black Friday refers to some cultish thing having to do with marking your calendar in black for a big shopping day. Or perhaps getting a black eye trying to get through the door of Walmart at 5 a.m. Or who knows what?
And the suits who make all the prognostications and forecasts about shopping trends … they are the worst. They attach all of this significance to the meaning of the day and its impact on the following 29 days of business.
All of which is complete fiction. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a good indicator of how business will be … the Friday after Thanksgiving, and nothing more. If the last couple of holiday shopping seasons have taught us anything, it’s that the shopper is waiting as long as she possibly can and she’s only going to pull the trigger when she’s getting a deal. And we won’t know how that all turns out until at least the first week of January 2010.
Of course, make no mistake, there are lots and lots of deals out there. All of them are based on crazy prices that are good for about four items in any given store. What a pity nobody is promoting product rather than price. I bet there’s not going to be a single shopper out there who can tell you what brand of flat-panel TV or laptop computer they bought. They just bought it by price.
Where’s the great product? Where are the exclusives? Where are the must-haves? Other than Apple Stores, they probably won’t be anywhere to be found this holiday.
So, if you like to get up real early, love obnoxious crowds and have the tackling ability of the Colts’ front line, then Black Friday is for you.
For the rest of us, it’s just another Blue day in retailing.—Warren Shoulberg