Is Black Friday Becoming Consumers' Favorite Holiday?

More evidence that Black Friday is infecting consumers earlier each year: A new survey from Hitwise says online traffic to Black Friday advertising Web sites increased by 52% for the week ending Nov. 10, compared to the comparable week a year ago.

And Halloween better watch its back--because at this rate, Black Friday will become America's new favorite holiday. Searches on the term "Black Friday ads" are up 91% compared to last year and have increased 954% since 2005. (In 2006, those searches increased 452% from 2005.)

"What's so amazing is that even a few years ago, 'Black Friday' was a term used just by retail insiders--it was a trade expression," says Heather Dougherty, director of research at the online competitive intelligence service. "But consumers are just so savvy. They know Black Friday is an important day for retailers, and they know [retailers] will use prices to get people moving."

News stories about the weaker economy and the likelihood of retailers being even more aggressive with promotions this year may also be fueling the increase, she says. "People are very conditioned about how retailers react in terms of pricing," she says.



The brick-and-mortar retailers that benefited most from the week's searches are Wal-Mart, Sears and Best Buy. (In the comparable week last year, Best Buy, Circuit City and Sears were among offline brands to receive the most traffic from Black Friday Web sites.) remained the most-visited Web site last week, with 11% of visits; Wal-Mart came in second with 6%.

And while Dougherty says it's too soon to say what the season's hottest gifts will be, so far, iPods and Uggs were the most popular search terms, and iPods, Wii and Uggs were the top three product searches. PlayStation 3 cracked the Top 10 product searches for the first time this holiday season.

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