Well, you survived another Black Friday and all you got for it was this lousy Red Ryder BB gun. The annual festivities are no longer about scooping up the best deals on the latest toaster models. Every year, Black Friday grabs the attention of folks worldwide, waiting for viral videos of perturbed mobs storming a Walmart for a 48-pack of batteries for $2 or two suburban moms putting their dukes up over $1 Amy Schumer DVDs. It has metastasized into a day of boorish behavior, black eyes, and spending money you do not have on pieces of plastic you do not need but, hey, it is your subjective value, so who are we to complain about the spending? Thankfully, though, it looks like the days of surly shoppers yelling profanities may be winding down.
Clickmas Time is Here
Adobe Analytics published this year’s Black Friday numbers and they were the best ever for online retailers, although falling short of last year’s Cyber Monday haul. According to the report, consumers purchased $7.4 billion in goods and services on Black Friday – just below the Monday record of $7.9 billion. Measuring sales data at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers, researchers say that shoppers were filling carts on their desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets with both big-ticket items and smaller products.
Your local mom-and-pop lingerie store did not enjoy the same level of success. ShopperTrak’s preliminary figures found a 6.2% decline at brick-and-mortar stores compared to a year ago. However, Thanksgiving Day receipts edged up 2.3% compared to last year. Shopping malls – ground zero for the stampedes – were “somewhat muted,” says another report by KeyBanc Capital Markets. Study authors noted that Banana Republic, Express, Gap, and Zara offered 50% discounts, but the steep price cuts were not enough to lure in consumers.
It turns out people would prefer to sit on their sofas and browse deals on their mobile devices while listening to Louis Armstrong’s Christmas tunes. This has been the trend in recent years as more consumers take advantage of the digital marketplace. In 2018, for example, nine million fewer Americans shopped over the entire Black Friday weekend. Nowadays, you are more likely to notice less traffic, more parking spots, stores with fewer customers, and a more relaxed atmosphere than fists flying. And what are customers buying? The most in-demand products this year are Frozen 2 toys, NERF guns, Paw Patrol toys, Apple AirPods, Samsung televisions, Air Fryers, and the Nintendo Switch.
Stay the Corpse?
While this is good news for civilized society, it is bad news for the shopping mall as the retail apocalypse continues to eat away at these lifeless corpses.
Liberty Nation has reported on the continued zombification of these shopping malls. Sure, malls are still standing, but they are becoming empty vessels as more stores shutter their doors. These buildings have had no other choice but to turn into apartment-office space hybrids. Some are even installing homeless shelters. Every mall is trying its best to avoid being one of the 25% that will likely close down within the next three years. They are focusing primarily on trimming the number of stores but the key issue for these facilities has been the bloated retail square feet per capita, which is currently six times greater in the U.S. than in Europe or Japan.
If these zombie centers cannot even attract live bodies during the busiest shopping day of the year, then how could they stay afloat in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon?
Seen One, Seen A Mall
When YouTube channels and Twitter accounts need to pass off footage of brawls, arguments, and chaos from years ago as recent news, then you know the Black Friday madness is ending. Even if you thought it was problematic that consumers were lining up at 4 a.m. in frigid temperatures to purchase a tea kettle at half price, the free market has already come up with a remedy. Thanks to the internet, you do not need to risk life and limb just to get your hands on Furbies and Elmos.
Read more from Andrew Moran.