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Economy & Business

Duquesne Prof: Black Friday Sales Not Quite What They Used To Be

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has long been perceived as the highest grossing shopping day of the year, when customers flock to shopping malls and department stores across the nation in search of deals and when shops' finances go from the red to the black.

But Audrey Guskey, associate professor of marketing at the Palumbo Donahue School of Business at Duquesne University, said times have changed.

“We used to have something called a ‘Black Friday,’ but the real news is that there isn’t such a thing as Black Friday anymore,” Guskey said. “Stores are open on Thanksgiving, there have been a lot of ‘Black Friday’ sales well before Black Friday, and the sales are now spread throughout the whole Christmas shopping season. In reality, what we used to know as the ‘Black Friday’ has really lost its luster.”

Guskey points out that Black Friday is no longer the busiest shopping day of the year. In fact, what she referred to as “Super Saturday,” the Saturday before Christmas now gets that distinction.

As shopping habits have become more spread out through the holiday season, Black Friday has also been hurt by the rise in popularity of buying items online. Online entities such as Amazon and eBay offer convenience and options that department stores can't compete with.

Online shopping “is easy – a couple clicks here and there,” Guskey said. “You can compare different prices and product offerings literally across the country so you can really get the best deals.”

Buying online now has its own version of Black Friday known as Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving and offers reduced pricing and free shipping to customers.

While Black Friday sales are on a downward trajectory, Cyber Monday sales continue to increase.

“Cyber Monday is going to be huge,” Guskey said. “Online sales this holiday season are going to be increasing by double-digits.”

Guskey playfully referred to online sales as “the one shining star in the Christmas tree this year for retailers.”

Guskey does point out that good deals will cause many people to shop on Black Friday, and it will still be a high-grossing day for retailers.