Why is Black Friday Happening Before Black Friday?

If you aren’t already offering your Black Friday deals to customers, you’re too late.

Black Friday is now happening before Black Friday. Like right now.

Amazon, for example, started its Black Friday deals on November 16 – an entire week early. You can literally take advantage of big discounts today.

So why is Black Friday happening so far in advance?

It comes down to one factor: competition.

Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Starbucks – which is running their deal starting November 20 – recognize the arm’s race for consumer attention and spending this holiday season. Their premature Black Friday deals are their response to an ever growing demand for “early access,” “sneak previews,” and “special discounts.”

This is the way they stand out.

Is Early Black Friday an Effective Strategy?

A few years ago, we started seeing Black Friday deals available as early as Thanksgiving. Shoppers could start their spending ahead of time, as early as 5pm on Thanksgiving Day. While the shoppers certainly showed up, the strategy wasn’t necessarily embraced by the masses. In fact, some retailers made a public declaration of their refusal to open on Thanksgiving, and some consumers protested these early promotions.

Still, we continue to see Black Friday happening well before Black Friday. So is it an effective strategy for retailers?

Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, says Black Friday is not the most profitable day of the year for retailers; the Saturday before Christmas takes the honor.

So why are we seeing retailers like Amazon and Walmart getting the first word?

Steve Dennis, president of SageBerry Consulting, puts it best: “The first place people go tends to see a disproportionate share of the money.”

It all comes down to competition. Or, as we always hear, the early bird gets the worm.

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