Black Friday store sales fall as shoppers move online

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(Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Friday shopping is shifting from hours spent in line to more time online.

Total sales on Black Friday fell 10 percent to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to research firm ShopperTrak. And sales on Thanksgiving dropped by the same percentage, to $1.8 billion.

A big reason for the decline is increased online shopping, as Americans hunt down deals on their smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. And many retailers are offering bargains even before Thanksgiving, limiting the impact of Black Friday specials.

Online sales jumped 14.3 percent on Friday compared with last year, according to Adobe, which tracked activity on 4,500 retail websites. Online deals accounted for 40 percent of total sales, while email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with 2014.

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  • Theo VanderSlyke

    So much for MI’s taxation of SOME online sales “levelling the playing field” for brick and mortar businesses. When are major retailers going to wake up and join the 21st century? Probably not until their advertising departments tell them to. I am old enough to remember when companies ran advertising departments, not the other way around. What you are seeing across the country is a very big indication of why that was a good idea. The advertising bubble is about to pop though, as companies are realizing that advertising is not the necessity it was thought to be, and that while it can be an incredible asset to a business it comes with an incredibly critical risk which must be very closely monitored and regulated by each business. The alternative is financial ruin. Just look what has happened to journalism if you need a concrete example.
    An entire profession has been reduced to nothing more than high school-level data entry and sales, simply because of an over-reliance on advertising that wasn’t truly needed in the first place. Now they are trapped in a business model which is financially unsustainable for technological reasons. Reasons which are far outside the control or influence even of something as large and powerful as the media industry.
    Technology is more powerful and agile than advertising, is advancing 100x faster, and is diametrically opposed to the concept of control by anything or anyone other than the end-user. What is more, every year it becomes exponentially more expensive for advertising to keep up with, let alone combat. That increase in expense is not borne by the advertising companies, it is passed on to the businesses which purchase the advertsements. Ad budgets over the last 20 years have increased astronomically, and nobody is saying that perhaps there is a financial point at which such spending becomes detrimental, let alone financially dangerous for the company doing it. And nobody is saying that perhaps advertising was best left as an enhancement to a business or industry rather than as an industry unto itself.
    But it won’t be long before they do. People are looking at reports like this and realizing that something is askew. That the way they have been doing things is no longer working. As they seek to identify what exactly that is, they are going to take a much closer look at advertising and marketing. What they are going to find is that every year they are paying more and more money for something that is less and less effective.
    And that is just bad business.

    • JWP

      I teach economics and serve on advisory boards of a few larger SW MI companies. I have been saying the same thing in both capacities for at least ten years, but it falls on deaf ears. People just don’t like to be told that they are doing something completely irrational.