Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Holiday Shopping List
Spoiler alert: Holiday shopping will start early. Not just early on Black Friday morning—that’s totally 2009. And not a day early, like in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner—we did that last year. And the year before.
I’ve said it before, but it comes up every year at this time: Black Friday is no longer a day (or a weekend); it is a state of mind. It is an instant trigger that tells consumers: Big deals! Right now! Except, this year, the in-your-face promotions that are synonymous with Black Friday shopping will start weeks before Thanksgiving. More! Sooner! Longer! Mostly, retailers want to cover every possible angle: the person that wants to shop early, late, or around the clock.
Here are a few other predictions, as shopping becomes a national news story in the coming weeks:
People will complain. And then they will shop. The holidays are too commercial, some will cry. It starts too early. The discounts aren’t deep enough. We love to whine. Nearly as much as we love to shop.
The Wednesday after Thanksgiving will get a special name. We’ve already got Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday—all designed to extend the holiday weekend’s focus on shopping. If it works on Tuesday, you can bet someone will try to bring Wednesday into the fold.
Shipping will be free. Paying for shipping on online orders in November and December is almost as ridiculous as paying full price at the Gap any day of the year.
Someone will start a petition protesting something. So many things get people charged up as December 25 approaches: having to work on Thanksgiving or having to listen to Christmas music at stores for two solid months.
People will camp out at big-box stores on Black Friday. Even though they could order most of the same things online. In warm pajamas. On the couch. While eating leftovers. To be fair: The chain stores are painfully aware of this, and go to some lengths to make their in-store deals different, or perhaps slightly better, than what’s available online. But they can’t make it so much better as to risk offending the savvy online shopper, when e-commerce accounted for more than $40 billion in holiday sales last year.
We will marvel at mobile shopping . . . again. Last holiday season, smartphones and tablets drove about 20 percent of online traffic, according to an IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report. And experts predict we’ll do even more shopping on our phones this year.
There will be deals on Keurig machines and headphones. Really, it’s hard to believe anyone still needs a coffee machine or headphones.
Boutiques will serve a lot of hot apple cider on Black Friday. Small independent stores that can’t beat the big-box deals will try instead to offer a respite from the chaos. Expect some boutiques to offer special incentives on Black Friday, but the Saturday after Thanksgiving—known as Small Business Saturday—will be the best day to shop neighborhood retailers.
A lot of “experiences” will happen at stores and malls. You won’t hear a live choral concert at home. Or get to sample a gingerbread latte. Shopping centers will stack their calendars with a heavy rotation of events to give people more incentive to come out, soak up the season, and hopefully, buy stuff.