Bye, Bye Black Friday: Why Black Friday is Becoming More Obsolete

Gianna Hutton, Senior Media Editor

With bloated stomachs and wallets ready, thousands of Americans have historically flooded malls the day after Thanksgiving, eager to complete their holiday shopping. Between lines wrapping around malls, violent fights over sale items and crowds flooding every inch of department stores, today’s Black Friday seems more of a hassle than just clicking “add to shopping cart” on one’s laptop. 

In 1869, the term “Black Friday” referred to the crash of the U.S. gold market, according to the History Channel. Retail became tied to the term after stores were described as “in the red,” indicating low sales; so adversely, “in the black” became associated with an influx of sales. According to CNN Money, in 1950s Philadelphia, the first Black Friday occurred with police, who used the term to describe the sales resulting in retail chaos for an Army/Navy game. 

Soon after, the term became synonymous with the retail mayhem witnessed with early holiday sales. However, with increased accessibility to technology and the development of online shopping combined with the ongoing pandemic and environmental concerns, the “black” of Black Friday seems to represent its own funeral. 

Cyber Monday sales of 2020 reached $10.8 billion, marking the day as the largest e-commerce selling day of all time, according to CNBC. With a 15.1% growth from 2019, this platform of purchasing can only continue to grow, considering its convenience and the ongoing public health crisis. Waiting in line for substandard deals reduced by supply-chain disruptions is not worth the hassle anymore. 

Beyond the inconvenience and discomfort of Black Friday, it lacks alignment with the growing belief of younger consumers a major market big brands target for sales. According to a 2019 study, Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail, an overwhelming majority of Generation Z shoppers favor sustainable brands and are willing to pay 10% more on sustainable products. Furthermore, Millennials and Generation Z shoppers are more likely to make purchasing decisions in alignment with their personal, social and environmental principles. 

A 2019 Green Alliance report found that consumers end up throwing away 80% of Black Friday purchases shortly after they are bought. The movement of “conscious consumerism” in response has grown, with 2020 research by Globe Scan indicating a growing consumer base as more pensive prior to making purchases and an increase of individuals who prefer more long-lasting products. 

Some brands have even joined the “Anti-Black Friday Movement,” starting with Patagonia in 2011, who ​​bought a full-page advertisement in the New York Times with a jacket saying “Do not buy this jacket.” REI followed this trend in 2015, marketing the discouragement of consumption with the hashtag #OptOutside. 

From contemplative shoppers to reduced sales, Black Friday’s impact will continue dimming going into the 2021 holiday season. Bye, Bye Black Friday