I survived Black Friday and all I got was this blog post

So the 2011 extreme sport known as Black Friday shopping has concluded and the numbers look good:

  • According to the National Retail Federation, a record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend.
  • $11.4 Billion dollars were spent on Black Friday alone, according to ShopperTrak.
  • The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 at bricks and mortar stores this weekend, up from $365.34 last year.
  • Close to 40% of total weekend spending was done online, with an average spend of $150.53.
And it seems that customers were more than willing to get up even earlier to grab great deals:
  • In 2011, 24.4% of shoppers were at stores by midnight on Black Friday, either waiting for stores to open or visiting retailers who opened on Thanksgiving evening. 
  • In 2010 and 2009 these percentages were 9.5 and 3.3, respectively.
Considering the great start to the season, especially in light of the sluggish economy, it’s easy to see why the trend to open early may continue for retailers.

Or will it? People are questioning whether or not opening early (say, at midnight or earlier) is such a good thing. One example is Seth Coleman, a Target employee, who protested against the company’s decision to open at midnight by collecting close to 200, 000 signatures on a petition to have Target reverse its decision.

“Our guests have expressed that they would prefer to kick off their holiday shopping experience right after the holiday celebrations, rather than getting up in the middle of the night.” Anahita Cameron, HR Director for Target

I applaud the fact that Seth and other employees felt comfortable in expressing their opinion to Target management. As a HR professional, having an open door policy is not the same as actually having someone use it. He could have just as easily gone to a union. But his actions, and the fact that he was able to gather so many signatures, speaks to another growing sentiment. Where do we-consumers, companies, and employees-draw the line when it comes to the holidays?

Yes, sales were better than last year. But there were also more incidents of violence and poor behavior. And the competitive advantage that was earned this year by opening early will more than likely be erased next year, due to the fact that other retailers will copy the formula. There’s only so low a company can price their goods and still earn a profit, and only so early they can open and still pretend that Thanksgiving is a holiday for its employees.

“I feel terrible… It will change some Thanksgiving plans for our employees. It certainly changes mine.” Brian Dunn, Best Buy CEO 

So, how will retailers change their Black Friday sales strategies to remain competitive (and avoid a backlash)?

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