Technology Column

Online holiday deals are making Black Friday obsolete

/ The Daily Orange

Black Friday is the rawest form of American consumerist culture and it’s evolving more quickly than anyone anticipated.

A vital reason Black Friday has remained such a staple of the season as a “national” holiday is the frugality associated with it. Everything from 60-inch TVs to brand-name shoes are heavily marked down, and as American consumers, people feel compelled to go out and buy things.

But it looks like online shopping is changing all of that. According to a study released by research firm Ipsos earlier this month, Amazon is the most popular retailer for this holiday season: 59 percent of surveyed consumers by the firm said they intend to browse the site for their holiday shopping. At 52 percent, Walmart placed second behind Amazon in this category.

It looks like one way or another, people are getting sick of Black Friday doorbusters, too. According to National Retail Federation figures cited by The Balance, the number of in-store shoppers over Thanksgiving weekend has fallen over the last three straight years, down about 30 percent from 2012 to 2015.

Because Black Friday is known for the ugly fights and deadly stampedes it brings each year, the trend toward virtual Black Friday sales is one of the best examples of technology ridding our world of any true evils. Online shopping gives holiday consumers the opportunity to search for any gift in the world, no matter how in-demand or obscure it might be, and avoid the chaos of Black Friday all together.

I have always done my best to avoid the brunt of Black Friday shopping. Hearing the horror stories from friends and family has been enough to turn me off. And even still, I’ve had my fair share of the Black Friday experience in-person: In high school, I worked two years of the holiday at my local Toys “R” Us, in the electronics department, helping the endless swarms of deal-hungry customers with their holiday purchases.

I think I have enough credence to say that in-person holiday retail shopping is awful.

Because of this, the best thing to happen to holiday shopping was Amazon. Unlike other retailers that concentrate their biggest sales in the days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon runs two weeks of sale, with one week of Black Friday sales and another for Cyber Monday.

Black Friday deals will continue through Dec. 5 on the site, offering some of the biggest Black Friday highlights online through timed and limited quantity deals. Most savvy online shoppers have noticed that Amazon’s online shopping methods are a lot smarter than the Black Friday retail run. Though Amazon doesn’t release official sales figures, e-commerce tracker Slice Intelligence estimates that the site accounted for more than 35 percent of total online Black Friday sales in 2015.

If you plan on staying sane while getting holiday shopping out of the way, take the most rational route and resist the temptation of waking up early for some attractive doorbuster deal. Those two Black Fridays I spent working retail are two days of my life I’ll never forget — but also two Black Fridays I’ll never have to relive, thanks to my couch, my laptop and my internet connection.

Brett Weiser-Schlesinger is a junior newspaper and online journalism major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at bweisers@syr.edu.

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