Will Black Friday always be the same?

With Black Friday/Cyber Monday week finally over, I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts regarding Black Friday/Cyber Monday week now that retail has shifted entirely to preparing for the upcoming December holidays.

I’ve never been one to go hard on Black Friday, and I’ve never actually gone shopping on a Black Friday, which still even surprises me because of how often I shop and how much time I spend absorbed in the retail industry. I’ve made Cyber Monday purchases for the past few years, this past one included. As my taste in clothing has become more *refined* over the past few years, I’ve always run into the struggle that is the things that I would be willing to drop a good amount of money on not actually going on sale for Black Friday.

For example, this year I was planning to make one big purchase (in terms of my bank account), and it was going to be the Super Puff jacket from Aritzia, which retails for $250. I was expecting it go on at least a little bit of a sale, but lone behold, it did not. If that jacket’s price had even been reduced by 10%, I would have probably purchased it. Leading up to Black Friday, I really thought that this jacket would go on sale because of how popular it was and the fact that Aritzia started their 50% off site-wide Black Friday promotion a few days before Black Friday. There was another coat that I was eyeing, that was $200-something, reduced from $400-something, so I was really banking on the Super Puff going on sale.

from Aritzia.com
https://www.aritzia.com/us/en/the-super-puff

My coworkers at Omni Talk were at the Mall of America on Black Friday, and pointed out on their live podcast that Aritzia was pretty much dead, which I do not feel bad about at all because of how disappointed I was that I didn’t get the jacket I was waiting on for months.

All of this aside, while spending this year for Black Friday/Cyber Monday was sky-high and in the billions, I noticed something that I didn’t notice last year. A lot of my favorite brands, that are relatively popular for millennials/Gen Z’s, didn’t have any kinds of sales going on for Black Friday.

Everlane, one of my absolute favorites, had no sales, but donated all of their profits from their “Black Friday Fund” to Oceana to help pick up plastic from the oceans.

https://www.everlane.com/black-friday-fund
Taken from https://www.everlane.com/black-friday-fund

Kotn, another one of my reliable brands, used all of their Black Friday profits to help build schools in Egypt, where their cotton farmers work and where all of their materials are sourced from.

TOPO Designs, one of my favorite outwear brands, and Blue Nile Jewelry, one of my favorite jewelry makers, put a super small selection of their merchandise on sale for the weekend, rather than taking an approach like Gap and others do, where the entire site has a fixed markdown percentage for all products.

This had me curious as to the future of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, especially as the spending power of millennials and Gen Z’ers increases, and will continue to do so. With changing consumer behaviors and a deeper consciousness for environmental impacts, as well as the prominence of brands so heavily shopped at during this weekend decreasing, will Black Friday eventually become irrelevant?

My prediction: probably not. But, I think that it will change significantly in my lifetime. Brands like Everlane and Kotn are doing something so untraditional and against the norms, and both brands ended up raising significantly more money for their Black Friday Funds than they had aimed for, which to me says something big.

As someone who manages to want all of the things that literally never go on sale, even for Black Friday, I’m excited to see how the beginning of the holiday retail season changes in my lifetime.

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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