Has Black Friday lost all meaning?

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The Future. 2023 marks the 99th anniversary of Black Friday, but what was once a one-day event has extended well beyond 24 hours, sometimes stretching several weeks. With consumers pointing out many holiday sales begin as soon as Halloween wraps up, Black Friday could be obsolete within 20 years.

A month-long “shopping day”
Black Friday, the unofficial holiday of American consumerism, isn’t what it used to be.

  • As deals now become available as early as October, many consumers have already found their bargains by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. “The way most [retailers] capture demand is by targeting early demand,” Craig Johnson, founder of the retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners, told NYT.
  • Today, more than ever, people rely on online shopping to secure the best deals, so Black Friday is as much a “cyber” event as Cyber Monday. Last year, 87.2 million consumers shopped online during Black Friday, compared to 77 million on Cyber Monday, reports Fast Company.
  • Black Friday sales have also circulated internationally, so what was once an American cultural event is now global.

A resilient consumer
Despite inflation and climbing interest rates, people are still shelling out for the holidays. Holiday spending increased 12.7% in 2021 and 5.3% in 2022. The National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales will jump 3% to 4% from last year, close to pre-pandemic levels.

While the days when people slept outside Best Buy to nab discounted TVs may be gone, Black Friday is still code for the shopping mania that always takes over at this time of year.

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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