NMB Rules of Pre-Holiday Retail: Help Black Friday Beat the Blues!

More markdown rants . . .

As we do every year, nmb hit the streets pre-dawn on Friday to get a bead on the 2008 holiday shopping zeitgeist.  Last year, it was all about destination shopping; mapping out a specific plan, circular in hand, in order to snag specific items at guaranteed savings while quantities lasted.  Last year’s post-Black-Friday headlines debated the fairness of advertising items that were intentionally limited in supply and documented how rapidly that supply depleted as the sun rose.   You also had your token trampling and tales of shootings that turned out not to be about shopping at all (as though that made it all better) . . . some things never change.  However, much has changed in the motivation department this year.  Seems that folks got up at 4:00 in the morning, jumped in their cars and hit multiple retailers in quick succession . . . just for the fun of it?  Yep, that’s right . . . as Ryan put it “My wife, my brother and his wife . . . we just thought it’d be fun to watch everyone.”  They hit Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond in rapid succession and made it home with their bootie:  A plastic garland and a mini Christmas tree.  According to Ryan “We weren’t going to buy anything but my wife couldn’t resist.”  Total sale:  $15.75.  Or how about Christine . . . She and her gal pal, Laura have never hit Black Friday before so why now?  “Well, I guess it sounds kinda dumb, but we just thought it’d be fun . . . to kind of get our minds off things before the holidays hit.”  Total purchases?  $0   John?  “I don’t really know why I went out . . . just something to do I guess.  I’m still not sure if the prices are really that much better.”

Times are so tough that shopping is a diversionary spectator sport  . . .  restraint vs. impulse is hardly an issue . . . “conversion” isn’t a possibility . . . traffic is just, well, traffic.


My prediction?  Things are not going to go back to “the way they were” and when “everything picks back up again.”  Retailers need to get it that price is not the magical motivator and that in fact, the more that prices are slashed, the more jaded consumers become . . . Beyond that, shopping is not the same as buying.  One can be a passive activity; the other requires active engagement and intention.  Retailers have a real opportunity to make shopping more entertaining; to give a bit more before expecting to get; to elevate the conversation beyond price.  After all, consumers already have.


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