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Is The Day After Halloween The New Black Friday?

National Retail

What was once known as Black Friday has now evolved into a shopping phenomenon more commonly described as “The Christmas Creep” — and it is occurring closer to Halloween than it is Thanksgiving. 


Black Friday, which falls the day after Thanksgiving, has traditionally marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. But according to Cushman & Wakefield Vice President and Head of Retail Research Garrick Brown, of 30 major retailers Cushman is tracking, an estimated 80% began Black Friday holiday sales within the first few days after Halloween.

Traditionally, Black Friday would stir up images of customers stuffed in lines like sardines stretching on for blocks, anxiously waiting for hours to race into stores in search of the best mega-deals of the year. But this one-day craze has expanded into a weeks-long trend that exists both in-stores and online.

"Most retailers back then waited until right before Thanksgiving [to start Black Friday sales]," Brown said during a webcast. "The day after Halloween is now the official start to the holiday shopping season."


For many years, Black Friday was the star of the show when it came to retail sales, but that has changed over the years with Cyber Monday and now Green Monday. Green Monday lands on the second Monday in December and targets last-minute online shoppers trying to get their goods shipped in time for the holidays, creeping in on the discount season.

“It used to be Black Friday was the [prime shopping] day of the year and certainly it’s been diminished significantly … What we’re actually seeing is that the retail shopping that used to land on the Black Friday weekend it’s showing up in still relatively strong numbers, but it’s mostly been dispersed earlier in the season and then we get a giant surge at the end of the season,” Brown said. 

This could be attributed in part to millennials, who opt to spread their shopping out rather than do it all in one day. An estimated 75% of millennial shoppers will engage in Black Friday, but will also continue to shop into the weeks following, Forbes reports.

Retailers Launch Promotional Deals Earlier


When it comes to holiday shopping, Toys R Us, which filed for bankruptcy mid-September, was one of the first to kick off the discount season with a series of “hot deals” on Oct. 26.

Amazon ushered in November with its own Black Friday deals, which began on the first day of the month, USA Today reports.

“If you thought we’re getting earlier and earlier with the holiday stuff, you’re not hallucinating,” Brown said.

Others who were not so quick to offer deals have been leaking ads online to garner excitement by providing hints about potential sales that could emerge throughout November and December.

Consumers are jumping in on this trend as well. More than half of Americans begin to research holiday purchases even before November begins, Cushman & Wakefield reports.

While these earlier sales may take some weight off Black Friday profits, it can also provide more opportunity for retailers to create strategies to engage with and convert customers over a longer period of time, WS Development Senior Vice President of Leasing Mark Roberts said.

"When done well, this translates to greater frequency and bigger shopping bags," Roberts said.

Omnichannel Shopping Provides More Options


Each of these trends is aided and abetted by the rise of e-commerce, and while this has encouraged more online-only sales like Cyber Monday, which could reach $6.6B in sales this year, making it the largest online shopping event in history, it has also led to an increase in omnichannel shopping, which is an integration of online and brick-and-mortar shopping.

In addition to helping people avoid the crowds, e-commerce can provide opportunities for brick-and-mortar retailers too, as shoppers increasingly look online to compare prices before making purchases in stores. 

“As omnichannel shopping trends continue to evolve with new technology and higher consumer expectations, we believe retail is facing a renaissance. The omnichannel world is evolving daily, opening doors for the store and retail destinations as a whole to take on new roles," Roberts said.

Consumers have responded positively to these integrated options. Last year, omnichannel retailers came out on top and captured the most sales over Thanksgiving weekend as well as the holiday season as a whole.

M-commerce is also emerging as a growing source of retail revenue, a trend that CBRE predicts will continue into the holiday season. This year, more than 50% of e-commerce holiday sales are expected to take place on a smartphone or tablet. This will be the first year mobile sales will surpass desktop sales when it comes to e-commerce.

While these retail shifts have been jarring for some, those who embrace the evolution will reap the benefits. The sector is expected to do so well this year that holiday sales could exceed $100B, an increase of nearly 14% from last year, Cushman reports.