The phenomenon is, of course, part of the corporate capitalist effort known as Christmas. As marketing strategy executive Clyde McKendrick noted in his apology for this year’s metastasis of Black Friday into Black Thanksgiving in Tuesday’s edition of Advertising Age:
Many of the traditions we hold dear as institutions in our holiday season have been basic marketing ploys to drive sales. Some of our traditions with the highest cultural capital, such as Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, are no more than events designed to draw shoppers out of their homes. Likewise, it’s well known that we have Coca-Cola to thank for Santa’s current incarnation (though the folks at White Rock Beverages say they were first) and Montgomery Ward to honor for Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
McKendrick’s reassuring words fairly drip with the actual sentiments and values behind the Xmas campaign:
By building Black Eve into the cultural calendar as a new Thanksgiving tradition, we are gaining another focal point in our holiday period that will act as a standalone event from Black Friday. Retailers capitalizing on this culture shift will benefit not only from an extension in selling, but in fact create a double spike in buying behavior.
Meanwhile, participation in the Black Thankgiving-Friday crime spree is an increasingly obvious IQ test. As reported by The New York Times for November 24, it unsurprisingly turns out that the thing is a giant bait-and-switch operation:
[D]espite all the ads that suggest otherwise, the lowest prices tend to come at other times of the year.
Retailers do discount smaller appliances on the Friday after Thanksgiving. “You’ll see small kitchen electronics under $20, sometimes under $10 — blenders, toasters,” he said. “But it’s low-end, cheap Chinese knockoffs that are heavily discounted — often there’s a mail-in rebate hassle that goes with it — but it’s a very, very low price.”
That is true of most of the biggest deals on that Friday, he said. Because retailers want to impress shoppers with very low prices, the quality of the discounted items can be low.
For higher-end electronics, Mr. de Grandpre’s trends show, shoppers should wait until the week after Thanksgiving.
“Black Friday is about cheap stuff at cheap prices, and I mean cheap in every connotation of the word,” Mr. de Grandpre said. Manufacturers like Dell or HP will allow their cheap laptops to be discounted via retailers on that Friday, but they will reserve markdowns through their own sites for later.
“The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,” [another expert] said. “It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.”
Occupy Xmas, anybody?