Is Black Friday Really Dead?

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Black Friday

How on EARTH is Thanksgiving this week? The year feels like it has flown by, but Thanksgiving is probably my favorite time of the year for a variety of reasons. That feeling was instilled in me when we lost our sweet Isaac five years ago a few weeks before Turkey Day and I got to see yet again what we have been blessed with.

The thing I don’t like about this time of year is the annual Black Friday craze. It just seems like there is something that brings the crazies out of the wood work looking for awesome Black Friday deals.

If you’ve spent as much time on the internet the past few weeks as I have, you’ve seen numerous articles, try here, here or here that have claimed that Black Friday is dead. On one level I would heartily agree that Black Friday is dead, but on another, I’d say “Not so fast.”

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?


A big reason behind the belief that Black Friday is dead is the growth of Cyber Monday and stores opening on Thanksgiving Day itself. Here’s a brief list of stores that are supposedly going to be open on Turkey Day:

  • K-Mart
  • Toys ‘R Us
  • Wal-Mart
  • Target
  • Macy’s

Those are just to name a few and some are open virtually all day, while others open sometime Thursday night. To be honest, I really don’t like this on a variety of levels. The old-fashioned side of me says that people should be home with their friends or family celebrating the holiday and not having to work or buying crap they can’t afford. Let’s face it – so much of what we buy on Black Friday is just that – crap.

From a practical stand point, however, I know this is only going to continue to grow. We see it with our advertising business. Retailers put more and more money into marketing for the holiday in the hopes of getting our hard earned money. With the ever increasing online presence, many stores feel the need to push the envelope even further to where I think we’ll see this develop into an entire week, if not longer. We’re actually seeing this already with sites like Amazon and rolling out deals in advance of Thanksgiving. Add this to some being crazed for the rush they get off of scoring a Black Friday deal on or before the day and the issue of sacredness is waning in my opinion.

Towards that issue of whether or not Thanksgiving is sacred any longer, I believe that many retailers are simply giving us what we as consumers are asking for. If they were not making money from it then they simply would not be opening on Thanksgiving, or at least the number of open stores would be much lower. That said, we can only blame ourselves, to a certain extent, in seeing this rash of retailers opening their doors on Turkey Day. How can we combat against this if we don’t like it? Simple – vote with your wallet. We as consumers vote for what we want when we spend our hard earned money and retailers pick up on that. Personally, I don’t really care whether or not stores are open on Thanksgiving; I won’t be shopping on Turkey Day but that’s the beauty of America – if you want to, you can. If you don’t like that stores are open on Thanksgiving then it’s quite simple, don’t go out shopping.

The Thought Behind Black Friday is Alive and Strong


One of the main sentiments behind the argument that Black Friday is dead is that so much of the shopping has shifted to other days. Honestly, we have seen that with:

  • Gray Thursday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Cyber Monday

However, what is the sentiment behind Black Friday? It’s about getting up at the butt crack of dawn to buy some TV the size of your house for $299. The only thing that has changed is that we now can do that on multiple of days instead of only one dark morning where we get up at 3:00 A.M. to stand in line with hundreds of other hopefuls who are as crazy as we are.

At the end of the day, there are two driving forces in the ordeal of Black Friday, Gray Thursday, or whatever the heck you want to call it – companies wanting to make even more money and our insatiable desire to spend money to get a perceived deal. I, for one, could care less what day I do my Christmas shopping done as I’ll likely be doing it from the comfort of my own home – on Amazon!


Do you think Black Friday is dead? Will you be going out Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving?


Photo courtesy of: DjLicious

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    Something doesn’t sit well with me that these stores are open on Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see how well they do. I have a hard time seeing how people will find time (or want to find time) to shop on Thanksgiving with all the family activities going on (not to mention the afternoon naps and football games to keep us occupied). I won’t be out shopping on Thursday or Friday. I can’t stand the feeding frenzy that is Black Friday. I’d rather spend more for Christmas than face that hectic shopping nightmare.

    • John says:

      I don’t like it on one level either Brian, but it is what it is I think. If they weren’t making money from it then they wouldn’t do it. I’m with you though, family can be stressful at times, but not enough to go shopping for something I don’t want/need on Thanksgiving.

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    Gray Thursday- is that Thanksgiving? It’s hard to believe that many people are actually going to go shopping on Thanksgiving- I’ll be interested to hear the numbers in terms of how many people actually shop during the day Thursday. I will definitely not be shopping on Thanksgiving!

    • John says:

      Yes it is Dee. I think it’s sort of funny they feel the need to come up with a “name” for it though. πŸ™‚ In terms of the numbers, I think it’ll be up but it won’t be from me. πŸ˜‰

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I don’t think Black Friday is dead at all, mainly because I recently saw figures on another pf blog that showed Cyber Monday spending is still well south of 10% of Black Friday spending. I think this year Thursday will steal some of the Black Friday spending, but I imagine it won’t be too drastic a shift. As you said, I think we’ll only see this trend increase in the future.

    • John says:

      I agree DC, I just think it is being spread around some. I would agree as well that Thursday will steal some of Friday, but not too drastic.

  • Broke Millennial says:

    I like Black Friday. It seems I’m the only personal finance blogger who days. Perhaps blame me never experiencing it until college because — they don’t do Thanksgiving (or Black Friday) in Japan and China. I go with a set budget and have a great time with either friends or my family. But, I really dislike the opening of stores on Thursday. I wish there was a blanket rule that they waited until midnight. Luckily, no one in my family cares quite that much about it, it’s more for fun (and a little sport). It doesn’t ruin our Thanksgiving in anyway because we wait until either midnight or early the night morning to venture out and don’t care about major gadgets like TVs or computers.

    • John says:

      My wife and I were actually a bit that way when we were first married and there is a bit of sport to it. I think if you enjoy it and don’t go overboard then enjoy it. I don’t like the opening of stores on Thursday either, though I don’t see it changing unfortunately.

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions says:

    @ Broke Millennial — you’re not the only PF blogger who likes Black Friday! I do too πŸ™‚ But I don’t buy electronics. I stock up on household items and get gift cards with big discounts at the major drugstores and Staples.

    As for whether it’s dead, looking back on my “Black Friday” shopping, it has always been on Thursday and, for the past 2 years, the Sunday BEFORE Black Friday. I remember once, years and years ago, buying something on Black Friday but we didn’t get up at 3am! We did, however, get to a 24-hour CVS at 12am on Thursday. But then we went home and went to bed. We were only up an hour or so later than usual.

    • John says:

      I’ve heard that’s where you can get some good value Rebecca – in avoiding the big ticket electronic deals that they limit and getting more everyday type items. I agree, we’ve been seeing that shift into the whole week over the past few years, heck you can go shopping for deals on Amazon right now if you want.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    John, Rick and I often long for the days when you were forced to be without shopping because of a Sunday or holiday. I remember fondly my dad going to get gas, along with hundreds of others, on a day before a holiday, because there would be no gas stations or stores opened on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever. If you forgot Aunt Ginny’s present, or forgot to buy the cranberries, tough bounce – you were going to have to live without them. Man, I miss those days of forced rest.

    • John says:

      I know, I remember how it was like that when I was younger. If you got it great, if not, oh well because you’re going to be waiting for it. Sadly, on one level, I don’t see it changing any time soon.

  • E.M. says:

    I am with you on doing shopping from home. I don’t really like to shop, and I don’t like crowds at all, so I never really went crazy on Black Friday. My mom also hates shopping so I never experienced it early on. My aunt took me to the mall a few times at 5am but that’s nothing compared to waiting in lines. I don’t think Black Friday is dead – there’s still tons of people that love the thrill of getting those special deals. To some, it’s a yearly tradition. There may be a trend leading away from it bit by bit every year, but as you said, consumer spending shows a lot of people strongly support opening their wallets that day.

    • John says:

      I did it a few times as well and never was for me. I can see the sport in it, but I’d much rather do it from home while watching football. πŸ™‚

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I feel sorry for all of the people that have to work on Thanksgiving. I hope they’re getting paid a lot to be there….but I’m sure they’re not! =/

  • Andy@artofbeingcheap says:

    Not me. I’ll be sleeping in on my day off from work, the searching for deals later from the nice warm internet.

  • GamingYourFinances says:

    Never was a huge Black Friday shopper. Who needs all that steeply discounted crap anyways? (Usually I find its stuff you dont really need). But I do like the proliferation of Black Friday related sales. It does seem to make Christmas shopping a bit cheaper.

    • John says:

      That’s just it, so much of it is really stuff you don’t need. I do feel the same way though about seeing the deals on Amazon – they can be a weakness.

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    Black Friday is certainly not dead. I see it everywhere. It is the premise that is still alive. The reason the early shopping is so bad this year is because retailers have lost a week due to Thanksgiving falling at the end of the month instead of around the 24th. They essentially are losing 6 days and during this time frame, that accounts to millions lost.

    • John says:

      I agree Grayson, that premise is alive and well. Great point on the lost days, that is huge for retailers…though I still think they’d be doing it otherwise.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I’m not the right person to comment on this because I’ve never really paid any attention to Black Friday, but in general I agree with you that as long as the concept behind huge deals to make people buy stuff is alive, then that’s all that really matters.

    • John says:

      Yep, that’s all that really matters. Buying crap that seems like a deal isn’t bound to a certain day unfortunately. πŸ˜‰

  • Budget and the Beach says:

    For some reason I don’t think it’s dead despite all the other new crazes. I think it’s just absurd that they are opening all those stores on Thanksgiving. It makes me feel sad for the workers who have to go in that day. I’ve never understood nor did I partake in black friday, even when I was spending money more recklessly. It’s just a whole lot of “stuff” being purchased.

    • John says:

      I agree Tonya, I think it’ a bit on the absurd side myself, but it is what it is in my opinion. I did a little when I was younger, but now, I’d rather get a frontal lobotomy. πŸ˜‰

  • travis @debtchronicles says:

    As long as there are people willing to get up really early, or not go to bed at all, Black Friday will live on. It may not be “Friday” as much as late Thursday evening these days…but it’s still there. I’m not a big fan….if there’s a great laptop deal for my daughter I may think about it, but then again, cyber Monday looks good for that too. πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      You’re exactly right Travis! If we stop doing that, then it’ll go downhill. I need to start looking at a new laptop myself. πŸ™‚

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    I feel really sorry for all the people who have to work on Thanksgiving and don’t have the option of taking off, but I kind of like stores being open. I love my extended family, but after a full day of them, we sometimes need a break. We are usually out of town anyway, so it’s not like we can just go home. I don’t know that we will buy much on Thursday or Friday, but it’s nice to get out even if for no other reason than to move around after sitting all day.

    • John says:

      I do as well Kim. I know at our local Wal-Mart they were forcing people to work. Like that really gives them any option either – work or lose their job.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor says:

    For me personally, Black Friday was never alive. But for consumer culture as a whole, Black Friday is not dying but evolving into an even more efficient machine designed to suck money from people’s wallets. Stay home and enjoy your family Friday!

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I was running errands yesterday and passed by McDonalds which had on it’s sign that it would be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could only shake my head. I am not a big fan of stores of being open on Thanksgiving, but I do get why retailers are doing so. Like you said, as much as some of us harp about it, t hey would do it if it wasn’t profitable. But McDonalds? Really? Yes, I know some restaurants serve Thanksgiving meals but let’s face it – McDonalds is not going to be high on anyone’s list to eat at on the holiday. And no, I won’t be out shopping on Black Friday. πŸ™‚ Have a great Thanksgiving, John!

    • John says:

      I had the same experience Shannon. Because THAT is what I want on Thanksgiving – McD’s. πŸ˜‰ You have a great Thanksgiving as well Shannon!

  • FI Fighter says:

    Black Friday was a lot of fun in college… I’m guessing it still is for college students. Every $100, $200 you can save on a TV is a big chunk of change (at least it seemed that). As you get older, it’s more or less the same, so why bother? Plus work is stressful, so I’ll take as many days off as I can. Sleep is underrated!

    This year may be kind of exciting though. I know the PS 4 and XBOX One just got released, so I’m sure those items/accessories and a brand spanking new LED TV to pair it with will be flying of retail shelves.

    • John says:

      I think I went out when I was in college and I think the first year I was married, but after that I started to feel the same as you. I agree, those things will likely be gone in a blink of an eye.

  • Romona (@monasez) says:

    I definitely think black Friday is dead. These major stores sucked all the fun out of it by opening on Thursday. I really feel bad for the employees who have to work instead of spending thanksgiving with their families.

    • John says:

      That’s the thing Romona, I don’t think it’s dead because the sentiment is still there and what difference does it make if you get it on Thursday afternoon/evening as opposed to Friday morning?

      That said, I completely agree, especially for those that are forced to do it.

  • Demaish @ Borrowed Cents says:

    Black Friday is not dead in my opinion. I know Thanks Giving has been greatly affected by the stores that open but if I remember well, the Friday starts at 12am and there is still many people out there shopping. The only problem is people leave their families early on Thanks Giving to go line up outside the stores which open just a few hours before mid night.

  • Kendal @HassleFreeSaver says:

    Great post, John. I’m not a fan of the Black Friday craziness and I’d prefer retail leave Thanksgiving alone, but I agree with you one-hundred percent that the “Gray Thursday” trend is consumer-driven. Some people prefer to head out shopping after their Thanksgiving feast than set their alarms for zero dark thirty on Black Friday. I have never shopped Black Friday nor do I ever plan to, but I’ll probably snatch up some online deals this weekend. πŸ™‚

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I certainly won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving. And you’re right, most of it IS crap.

  • Laura @ says:

    I think for more and more people, Black Friday is dead – but it won’t die out completely, because there will always be those people who think it’s worth it to stand outside for hours (or days) just to get a chance to get a cheaper TV. It may continue to change, like it has to encompass Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but seeing how consumer-driven our culture is I can’t see it going away completely.

    • John says:

      I completely agree Laura. I don’t think it’ll completely die, the sentiment will just continue to shift to being more encompassing of other days.

  • Pauline says:

    I would never go queue at 4am in front of a store just to buy stuff. But I’d wait in front of the computer to grab a bargain for something I need. I just think Black Friday is shifting more online.

  • Michelle says:

    I definitely will not be going shopping on Thanksgiving. That is ridiculous! I don’t like crowds regardless though so I’d rather keep my shopping all online.

  • midlifefinance says:

    We are not going anywhere on Thursday and might go to one store on Friday. Our goal is to cook, overeat, relax and have a good time at home.

  • Andy | Income by Example says:

    I’ve only gone out shopping on Black Friday a handful of times, it’s not worth. My family went to get a deal on a dvd camcorder that we never use now and sometimes we go to get a large gift like a TV for someone. But we don’t get up at the butt crack of dawn anymore, just no point. So to me it’s dead. I focus on family and friends around the holidays, that’s what really matters.

    • John says:

      Yea, that sounds like me. I’ve been a few times, but hate dealing with the crowds so I stay home. I think the sentiment is very much still alive, just happening over a longer period.

  • anna says:

    I don’t really buy gifts for loved ones (bake them goods instead), but for B I’ll for sure go shopping… online and away from all the cray-cray consumers! Happy Thanksgiving, John and The Frugal Rules Family! πŸ™‚

  • Abigail says:

    I don’t think it’s dead. Like you said, merchants are just giving us more of what we want. Plus, if they space things out, there’s less chance of a customer being trampled (aka lawsuit). And as someone with fatigue issues, I love that I now have more opportunities to get great deals. I still won’t be braving the stores. Anything that can’t be bought online will just have to wait.

    And, yes, a lot of stuff they offer is crap. I don’t think many people truly get their money’s worth of a cake pops maker. But having hit Walmart once or twice in the past, I have seen parents loaded up on things that are definitely going to be Christmas items. They’re finding a way to get as much for their kids as possible. Whether the stuff will last, of course, is anyone’s guess.

    • John says:

      “Plus, if they space things out, there’s less chance of a customer being trampled (aka lawsuit)” Lol, that’s certainly true. πŸ™‚

      I agree, I doubt anyone will truly get their money’s worth out of something like a cake pop maker. Not to mention not needing one. πŸ™‚

  • This Life On Purpose says:

    It’s all just a marketing ploy. The companies just want to make as much money as possible. I mean it’s called black Friday because it’s the day where companies go from being in the red (in debt) to being in the black (not in debt) aka making lots of money off of you!

  • Chad@thstockmarketandi says:

    I think black friday is alive and well; probably more so than it has been in years. It is embarrassing that stores are now stretching it backwards to Thanksgiving. But if the customers shows up, I guess it is our fault. That’s not for me…it’s family and football all day.

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