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Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Losing Their Meaning (time.com) 140

HughPickens.com writes: Brad Tuttle reports at Money Magazine that while the terms "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" are more ubiquitous than ever, the importance of the can't-miss shopping days is undeniably fading. Retailers seem to want it both ways: They want shoppers to spend money long before these key shopping events, and yet they also want shoppers to turn out in full force to make purchases over the epic Black Friday weekend. When they use the "Cheap Stuff!" card day after day and week after week, the deals on any single day stop seeming special. Add to that the trend of manufacturers creating stripped-down versions of their electronics to sell on Black Friday, and consumers have less reason than ever to flood retail stores.

The true story behind Black Friday is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the "red to black" concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America's stores finally turned a profit.

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How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Losing Their Meaning

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  • Good riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) <hackertourist.xmsnet@nl> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:09PM (#50996187)

    the sooner those preposterous feeding frenzies are history, the better.

    • I second the motion. The Holiday Season lost any real 'social meaning' a long, long time ago.

      You can't show you really care about someone unless you spend money on them!

      That's the message they keep selling us. In my opinion you're smarter if you stopped buying into that decades ago.

      • Considering that most of the US proclaim themselves "christian", it is quite shocking that no one seems to know what a "black friday" really is and that they abuse the "term" for a "shopping event".

        So much about Muslim bashing ...

        • So much about Muslim bashing ...

          Oh, you mean how every other comment the last week or so is 'ISIS this, Al-Qaeda that, Muslim whatever'? I'm not sure if I believe they're low-level operatives for those organizations, spreading propaganda, or just idiots doing essentially the same thing, but if neither then they need to knock it off because that's what they're doing: getting everyone talking about those jackasses, which is exactly what they want: easier to spread FUD if you've already got them in everybody's forebrains. Best thing anyone c

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nospAm.nerdflat.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:13PM (#50996225) Journal
    .... and possibly for others who were in the area at the time who lost friends or family to the event, this is what I shall forever associate with "Black Friday": link [wikipedia.org].
  • Works for me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:15PM (#50996245)
    "manufacturers creating stripped-down versions of their electronics" Good, as long as the spyware and useless crap is stripped out.
    • Ha ha from TFA: "Most notably, Best Buy's model lacks smart TV features"
      • Am I the only person who wants my smart features outside my TV? Just give me HDMI/Displayport hookups (and lots of them) and get out of my way. I'll buy a Roku.

        • Re:Works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @04:03PM (#50996639) Homepage

          Am I the only person who wants my smart features outside my TV?

          Far from; my TV is essentially a monitor ... it takes HDMI input from my amp, and otherwise has NO part in anything other than passively displaying what is sent to it.

          It doesn't change channels, it doesn't change the volume (in fact it doesn't even make sound). It sure as hell doesn't connect to the internet or do anything 'smart'.

          I see no value at all in any of these 'smart' features. I have other devices better suited to the job, and which I trust more.

          Just because marketing thinks I want a 'smart TV' doesn't mean I give a shit.

          It's just one more annoying place where they can try to put ads, collect my information, and try to take a cut by 'monetizing' my TV experience. Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

        • Personally, I used to have the same opinion. But then I bought a Smart TV. There was no TV with the specifications I was looking for that also wasn't a smart TV. So I bought one. After using it for a while, I decided that I didn't need a Roku, or a computer hooked directly to my TV. The TV had Netflix, Youtube, and DLNA built in. So I can watch Netfix, Youtube, and even stream videos from PLEX without having a device hooked in to my TV. It also has Miracast so I can stream stuff directly from my tablet

          • I recently upgraded by 720p monitor to a 4k Smart TV and have had similar experiences. In some instances, Netflix and Amazon will actually send higher quality streams to their apps running on the Smart TV than they would a browser on an HTPC.
          • Re:Works for me (Score:4, Informative)

            by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @05:55PM (#50997585) Homepage

            And in the meantime it is sending bog-knows-what to who-knows-what. I think I'll pass....

            • And in the meantime it is sending bog-knows-what to who-knows-what. I think I'll pass....

              I didn't pass, I checked. I had my router log the packets from my TV for a couple of weeks, then fired up Wireshark to look at who it was talking to and what it was sending. Result? On a daily basis it sends a tiny request to the manufacturer, which I suspect is checking for firmware updates. Other than that, it appears to connect to Netflix when I watch Netflix, my DLNA server when I watch stuff from it, YouTube when I watch that, etc. That's it.

              It also occurs to me... if you're worried about a informati

              • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
                Does your smart TV have a microphone or camera? Some do, some don't? Who is the manufacturer if you don't mind me asking? Samsung seems to be the most gregarious about seizing "rights" in their TOS.
                • Does your smart TV have a microphone or camera? Some do, some don't? Who is the manufacturer if you don't mind me asking? Samsung seems to be the most gregarious about seizing "rights" in their TOS.

                  No camera or microphone. It's made by Sharp.

          • I thought this at first, then I found I could not switch between them without losing my place since the TV could not maintain state. And the apps were very unstable compared to the Roku. Maybe if I hadn't gotten that Black Friday special...
          • I bought a LG 55 inch smart tv a few years ago. About 2 years later the apps were no longer supported nor updated. That's how I found roku in the first place. It's cheaper to replace the roku than the tv every 2-3 years.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I would just like a TV with more than 2 friggin HDMI inputs! Recent models are so damn stingy with the I/O and I don't feel like replacing a perfectly good receiver or having to buy an HDMI switch just to plug everything in these days.

        • I'm generally with you there. I've been underwhelmed by the interface that a lot of smart TVs use, as well as how the platform is generally abandoned as the company releases new TVs. I can plug in a $39 Chromecast and bring "smarts" to an 8 year old Sony, or 5 year old Best Buy Dynex.

          So far I've been very happy with my Chromecast. On Netflix or Youtube, the phone or Browser interface is a lot easier to look shows up on then the Smart TV interface, and it can be done while other content is playing. Localcast

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        So...it's an improvement...
    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Manufacturers have long made custom versions of products for specific store chains, and not just TV sets. Pots and pans, clothing, furniture, most products are available to any store that's willing to pay for them. Some stores (like Walmart) have a specific price point, so the manufacturers produce a model without the chrome-plated knobs, the low contrast screens, and use only the cheapest cloned capacitors and dubious quality power supplies.

      There's a lot of marketing power in it, too. Not only do they g

      • There's a lot of marketing power in it, too. Not only do they get to offer big TVs for ridiculously low prices, it's also safe to tout benefits like a "150% price match guarantee", when they have the exclusive contract to sell that exact model.

        Since smart consumers already know about the model exclusion trick that retailers do in order to offer that "150% price match guarantee", care to tell me why this particular kind of marketing gimmick isn't illegal?

        There literally is NO WAY to obtain a price match and EVERYONE involved knows this. IANAL, but how this is not false advertising or fraud is beyond me.

        • There literally is NO WAY to obtain a price match and EVERYONE involved knows this.

          But everyone doesn't know this. There are lots of people who think the 60" Samsung TV being sold by BestBuy is the same 60" Samsung TV being sold by Walmart, and if their favorite store claims to match prices, then there's no reason to go check other prices.

          I remember a jewelry chain in San Diego that had a "chapter 7 liquidation" sale running for the entire five years I lived there. There's a carpet store around the corner from me now whose "SALE" signs have been in the window long enough to bleach red t

          • That reminds me of a bicycle shop in my college town which had huge posters advertising that they were going out of business every fall, when the new freshmen were starting classes.

    • I agree completely. That Motley Fool article was obviously written by a fool, because it touts "smart TV" features as something desirable, when in fact it's a big negative. Basically the whole puff piece was pushing people to buy smart TVs over superior TVs from companies like Vizio and Seiki, where you can still get dumb TVs and save a bundle while not getting stuck with shitty, privacy invading BS that spies on you and sends your conversations to some corporate HQ [scambusters.org].

  • What 'meaning'? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:15PM (#50996247) Homepage

    These aren't days with any real significance other than the usual "quick, come buy shit".

    It's not like these dates have any significance, and they're pretty much entirely fabricated by and for retail industries for their own benefit.

    I've been hearing ads talking about "Black Friday Week Savings" ... whatever. It's just marketing hype and bullshit.

    Yo Dawg, we hear you like sales, so we have a pre-sale so you can buy stuff while you're waiting for the sale where you can buy stuff before the next sale, for which we'll have a pre-sale and hype it even more.

    Sorry, but just because corporations want a two month long shopping frenzy doesn't mean we need to care.

    Stop buying shit you don't need because some asshole in marketing is telling you need to run out today and buy it. How did these clowns get everyone acting like trained fucking monkeys?

    I'm so glad we've given up on the whole Christmas gift thing ... pretty much from before Halloween until middle of January it's one big, over-hyped retail cycle which has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING except corporate profits and pointless consumerism.

    Losing their meaning -- what a pathetic statement.

    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      How did these clowns get everyone acting like trained fucking monkeys?

      Because, for the most part, they are.

      I don't think that it is about the "stuff" in general. It's about the social status of being someone who has the "stuff". The more in-demand the stuff is this season, the more social status afforded to acquiring it. Even if that status is only temporary.

      Vendors want to see a repeat of customers fighting for their products. Whether it be an Elmo doll or a Cabbage Patch Kid or whatever. Be cool. Be the p

    • Letting him get out all over the rest of the year just ruins everything.
    • How did these clowns get everyone acting like trained fucking monkeys?

      You have it backwards. Someone in marketing realized that people behave in predictable ways in response to certain stimuli and have taken advantage of it.

      A market economy is simply one where natural selection is applied to favor whatever generates the most profit. It turns out that using simple psychological tricks (e.g. big savings, "can't miss" opportunity, implied scarcity, etc.) are a great way to get people to spend money. Businesses that engage in this behavior have better long term success than th

      • How did these clowns get everyone acting like trained fucking monkeys?

        It turns out that using simple psychological tricks (e.g. big savings, "can't miss" opportunity, implied scarcity, etc.) are a great way to get people to spend money.

        At some point Crappy Tire frequently used "Good value" signs. They were the same colour and size as a Sale sign, but they said "Good Value" and had no indication of a discounted percent, or original price. . .

        . . . Because the item was for sale at its regular price.

        Once I saw someone complain because they saw the big yellow sign, grabbed all the items off the shelf assuming it was such a deep discount, and arrived home only to be dismayed when they realized it was the regular price.

        • assuming it was such a deep discount, and arrived home only to be dismayed when they realized it was the regular price.

          Harbor Freight - same thing. You have to pay attention to their specials. I bought a 950 watt Generator for 89 dollars - decent price. But I've seen it as high as 149.00, and once at 79.00. All the prices advertised as "specials". Same with many other items. Most regulars get used to it, and figure it out

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Hey at least it's a holiday that's not all about me, me, me. Sure, the retailers want to exploit it like every other special day (Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Halloween etc.) but I kinda like finding a nice gift for someone, when I can. And it's a pretty good excuse to enjoy the end of the year the same way Sunday is the end of the week. Don't let commercialism get in the way of Christmas, it's pretty hard to ruin Crazy Shopping Day though since that was all it meant.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        I just wish they would at least confine it to Friday. By letting it seep into thursday, they're causing quite a few dismal Thanksgiving dinners for the family of people who have to work.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      It's not like these dates have any significance

      Well, at least they're close to a national holiday. We've got Canadian retailers up here advertising Black Friday, and we celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The only winning move is not to play." I'll take some R&R time in my PJ's with my wife and kid instead, thank you. Did Black Friday with an ex a decade ago, never again. Life's way too short to deal with that swirling vortex of negativity over stupid, needful things.
  • successive iterations of economic inflation, joblessness, and market crash have forced retailers constrained by 21st century economic mandate of 15% quarterly and yearly posted gains to in turn usher in a thousand years of sales regardless of whether they want to or not. In return customers have become so desensitized and indifferent to a sale that its only awkward when a local business or retailer somehow misses the memo and tries to open a shop to sell a product for the greater common good. if the toile
    • raining grinch upon glad tidings still is a growing minority of americans who just wont. They hold contempt for christmas in october

      LOL ... I was practically homicidal when I saw the first Christmas movie in my on-screen TV guide before Halloween. And now it seems pretty much every day of the week, in pretty much every time slot, there's at least one Christmas movie in my TV guide.

      Christmas has become nothing more than a three-and-a-half month long bullshit marketing cycle.

      Who gives a crap about these reta

      • Who gives a crap about these retail events "losing their meaning" ... the underlying holiday has so utterly lost its meaning...

        The holiday lost its meaning long ago. It's retained some of it: gift giving has *always* been a major part of the holiday. However other parts have faded away, such as wearing conical hats, wearing loungewear, and slaves eating before their masters (or even being served by their masters) and being able to criticize their masters without fear of punishment. All these things have

  • AliExpress/Alibaba have 365 black fridays a year, on the Chinese singles day (11/11) they sold stuff for 14 billion dollars on a single day, pardon the pun.

  • Now the mainstream media is going after BLACK FRIDAY. When will their War on Christmas end?

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      When will their War on Christians end?

      FTFY - The only people who have a problem with Christmas are Christians, who feel left out of the celebrations. After all, the holidays are for them and not everyone else.

      • When will their War on Christians end?

        FTFY - The only people who have a problem with Christmas are Christians, who feel left out of the celebrations. After all, the holidays are for them and not everyone else.

        You mean when will this war on Saturnalia end...
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • My father was staying at my apartment for Thanksgiving weekend in 2005 when we went to the Wal-Mart store in Mountain View, CA. We got there at 6:30AM, an hour after the store opened for Black Friday. Counted 16 police cars in the parking lot and about as many cops inside the store. A stampede and a riot broke out over a pair of HDTV that were on sale. Meanwhile, I picked up a crockpot for $5.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Should've beaten someone with the crockpot and taken their TV.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        And ruin a brand new crockpot? Are you nuts?!
        • And ruin a brand new crockpot? Are you nuts?!

          I just scored one of the old ones that gets hot enough to be a fryer, too. For five bucks as well, coincidentally. It even came with the cookbook from 1975 or whatever.

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:41PM (#50996461)
    Can't we just say that all Fridays matter?
    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      Oh yeah, what about Applebee's, mr smrt guy? Did you even give them a thought?

      Also, the Black Friday holiday has been ruined by commercialism. I remember when it was all about worship of Mammon.

      BACK OFF fatboy, give me time to finish my pumpkin pie!
  • Big shopping events like sales or black friday do not make much sense in the information age.
    Back then it was a way to manage supply. Now, everything is stream based, predictions are made to make sure that shops get the right amount of supplies. The result is that instead of a predictable pattern that resulted in special events, we are now left with random noise.
    Shops now try to capitalize on the outdated shopping event concept by crafting special offers for it but people start noticing that it completely a

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:54PM (#50996555)
    There is an analog between how the Christmas holiday season keeps getting pushed earlier into the year vs the current disfunction of the economy as a whole. Both are attempting to compensate for poor performance by pulling forward whatever demand there is. For retail this means earlier and deeper sales. For the economy it means greater (and longer duration) fiscal and economic stimulus.
  • They've existed long enough to have a meaning?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You are all cows. Cows say moo. MOOOO! MOOOO! Moo cows MOOOO! Moo say the cows. YOU TRAMPLED COWS!!

    • Can someone please explain this joke to me? It's usually the first response in any thread and rated a -1.

      It's not funny, doesn't make me angry so can't be trolling, and doesn't reference anything I can think of. What's the point?

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      FINALLY, the cow troll is on topic!

  • For Catholics (Score:1, Interesting)

    by gillbates ( 106458 )
    Black Friday was the sacred Friday before Easter, on which Jesus was crucified. That is, until big business, in an act of cultural imperialism, decided the term should be used to dignify a celebration of materialism. Strange how Time conveniently overlooks cultural imperialism when directed against certain groups, but not others.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You're confusing it with "Good Friday".
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

      No, that's "Good Friday" you're thinking of. Black Friday got its name in Philadelphia in the 50s because it was right before some sports game and there was a lot of petty crime and shoplifting that day, creating a big headache for the police.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      lol a Catholic complaining about cultural imperialism

      I needed a good laugh today!

  • by KatchooNJ ( 173554 ) <Katchoo716NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @04:03PM (#50996645) Homepage

    Boy, I so hate that term. It conotates everything that is wrong with this whole Black Friday thing.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      You're right. It takes money to repair a busted door. We tried "Door Slightly Ajar" sales but we couldn't get it past marketing. We also tried "Hey, we're open now and we have a sale going on that really isn't much of a sale compared to the rest of the year but we're going to hype it up for no reason whatsoever anyway!" but it was panned as being too literal.

      Those marketing drones I tell ya...

      Oh, I know! Let's call it the "Shoot, Stab, and Trample Sale!" because...what? Too literal again? Guess I know why I

  • Internet shopping has for the most part made brick-and-mortar shopping a thing of the past.

    These deals are not so, you can normally find the same items with better prices online a week after black friday.

    I'm done risking life and limb going into walmart at frickin 4am after turkey day.

  • There hasn't been a Black Friday deal worth getting out of bed for since the late 1990s.

    As soon as the media latched onto Black Friday as an "event" it started going downhill.
    - Earlier hours
    - Worse deals
    - Fewer store exclusive deals
    - Larger crowds (worse odds of getting a deal)
    - Larger crowds (better odds of getting stabbed or trampled)
    - Pervasiveness of deal sites facilitating hoarders and resellers

    I've personally nev

    • Barnes and Nobles buy 1 get 1 50% off on collectible classics (their fancy leatherbound editions of classic literature), in conjunction with 30% off one item isn't bad.

      There are some decent firearms deals out there, but for electronics, other than some deals at costco, there's not much to be excited about.

    • While most of what you say is true, I got a great Core i7 desktop for only $479. I didn't even have to wait for Black Friday. The CPU that was in it retails for $300 alone.

  • In addition to the already described points of "Black Friday" turning into "Black Week", and Amazon apps dinging us when there's a new deal we can swipe-left or swipe-right, the stores painted themselves into a bit of a corner - "up to 80% off!"...that thing that no one wants, ever. The things that are actually wanted are only 5% off. The $200 laptops...each store only gets three of them, so if you're dediated enough to be one of the first three in line, you might be lucky enough to get one, but stores stop

  • ...when I last walked into any kind of store on Black Friday. It must have been at least 20 years ago. Occasionally I'll see something I'd like to give someone earlier in the year and buy it—I like doing that. Other than that, I shop when I am looking for something in particular, on no particular day. I really don't see why anything cares anything about what's going on during Black Friday except for those poor souls working retail. I do object to the junk retailers starting their sales on TG Day, only
  • I live in a smaller community of about 6000 people. We have a Wal-Mart here and it of course gets lots of our money. But when it comes to Black Friday sales, the products they bring in seem to last until mid June. Last year they had three pallets of these 32" RCA TV's for only $125.00. It was a good deal if you could live with 720p and only 1 HDMI, 1 Composite and 1 PC connection. It also had a tuner but we don't get any OTA this far from the city. It took until June before there was only one pallet l

  • "In their quest to attract shoppers, stores will partner with big-name manufacturers to create "derivative models" — stripped-down versions of pre-existing TVs. These TVs, made specifically for Black Friday, are often not as good as the model they're based on: The picture may be lesser quality, or the warranty may be altered. There could be some missing features or components....... Most notably, Best Buy's model lacks smart TV features, and doesn't offer as many settings: It has just two different a
  • > the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America's stores finally turned a profit. This myth always gets repeated, but is very wrong. Just look at any publicly traded retailer, and the profitable ones report a profit every single quarter, not just the fourth quarter.
  • I stoppd paying attention to Christmas, Easter, etc - even birthdays - many years ago exactly because of the commercialisation of it. The thought of gorging myself on food and drinks that I don't actually like, in the company of people that I mostly don't care about and wouldn't see at any other time, just doesn't appeal for some reason. Plus, of course, the frenzy to buy gifts that are mostly misplaced and unwanted. (Sorry, did that sound cynical?)

    I very pointedly do not buy gifts for birthdays or Christma

    • I agree. I've called a "gift truce" with my S.O. and my sister. We caught ourselves just buying crap that wasn't needed for each other just so we weren't "offending" each other by not buying a gift for the occasions so we agreed to stop.

  • Taxes consume more than 50% of income, these days. Imagine being able to be profitable in July, instead!

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