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Next year will be different


The endless cycle of ever-deeper discounts and earlier opening hours that have come to characterize Black Friday may finally be coming to an end and none-to-soon for retailers dealing with the self-inflicted headache. Several noteworthy developments this year suggest future promotional efforts will continue to evolve as the nature of holiday shopping itself undergoes change. For starters, opening hours at many retailers are now so early the only way to open earlier is to be open on Thanksgiving Day and several companies (Walmart, RadioShack) experimented with the concept this year. More will do so next year, as the competitive bar has now been raised (or lowered depending on your point of view) thanks in large part to a weak economy that led to increased competition for scarce consumer dollars.

In addition, the concept of a door-buster has become somewhat irrelevant in the Internet age where retailers can offer “site-crashers,” the online equivalent of door-busters, because they are not bound by predetermined store hours or access to physical location. The first steps were taken on that path this year as retailers became more aggressive in their use of the Web to communicate Black Friday deals well in advance of the Thanksgiving Day newspaper filled with dozens of circulars.

Stores and malls were jammed with deal-seeking customers on Black Friday and they will be again next year as old traditions die hard. However, if more retailers begin opening on Thanksgiving and get more aggressive with online holiday promotions in advance of Thanksgiving it will go a long way toward eroding the significance of Black Friday.

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