It’s Thanksgiving on Thursday. Friday is Black Friday. And all the maneuvering for competitive advantage during the opening salvo of the holiday shopping season has been well under way for weeks.
Some retailers have pushed their store openings into the final hours of Thanksgiving Day, while others have mobile strategies to lure those stuck in line waiting in-store into an online shopping cart.
While some retailers, like Nordstrom, are now offering free WiFi for their tech-enabled shoppers to enjoy, others, like Best Buy, are blocking scan codes to make it harder for their shoppers to do quick price checks against competitors.
Do a search for “black Friday online,” and you’ll see results for Groupon, Ideeli, and Amazon, each of which is offering some combination of unique merchandise, low prices and free shipping -- all before the Thanksgiving dinner dishes have been cleared. Macy’s and all the other advertisers and sponsors NBC could rustle up are ready to hawk their wares during the Thanksgiving Day parade, the dog show that follows, and all the holiday sports broadcasts.
There’s even a Black Friday app that shows you everything you might expect to find in your Sunday circular (remember those?), listing the most exciting imminent deals from more than 50 retailers. This app even enables quick searches across all the deals it covers, so you can plot your Black Friday strategies more efficiently.
Sadly, Thanksgiving itself seems to get lost in all this. I suppose folks have been bemoaning Christmas’ encroachment on Thanksgiving for generations. But this is the first year that retailers will actually open their doors before Thanksgiving day is officially over, offering door-buster deals to lure people away from their turkey-induced stupor. Heck, given all the mobile strategies that are coming into play, it’s likely possible to do a little shopping at the dinner table.
Look, I’m a marketing guy and I totally get the pressure retailers are under to make their numbers in a tough economic climate. The last few years have been hard, and it seems there will be little economic relief in sight, at least for non-luxury brands (the one-percenters have apparently been doing their bit).
Still, tradition and ritual matter. Time with family around a dinner table, sharing a meal usually prepared by those also enjoying it, matters. Hitting the pause button in our otherwise always-on lives to consider who and what we’re grateful for matters.
I’m thrilled there’s an app for just about everything. But nothing can replace the thought and effort that goes into preparing a homemade pie or green bean casserole (with those awesome crunchy onions on top) or a massive roasted bird. Nothing can replace the ritual toasts or prayers or sharing of what it is each person around the table is grateful for. An app can’t. Nothing can.
We’re Americans. We shop. It’s who we are. Still, there’s plenty of time for that.
But there is increasingly less time for the things that really matter. Resist what comes naturally for just 24 hours. The shopping can continue after midnight.