Big Three Shopping Days

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States, has been regarded as the beginning of America’s Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term “Black Friday” didn’t become widely used until more recent decades.

It’s twin, Cyber Monday, refers to the Monday following the Thanksgiving Holiday. Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and Scott Silverman coined the term which made its debut on Nov. 28, 2005, in a press release. Cyber Monday was intended to boost online shopping.

First observed in the United States on Nov. 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. Small Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express.

The earliest known use of “Black Friday” to refer to the day after Thanksgiving occurs in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance, for November 1951, and again in 1952. Here it referred to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving, in order to have a four-day weekend. However, this use does not appear to have caught on. Around the same time, the terms “Black Friday” and “Black Saturday” came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Many stores offer highly promoted sales on Black Friday and open very early, such as at midnight, or may even start their sales at some time on Thanksgiving. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday, such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005. Inaccurate reports often have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year.

In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession. Data shows $50.9 billion was spent during that 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from the previous year. However, the U.S. economy was not in a recession. Christmas creep has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend. This year there have been many so-called”black Friday” promotions following Halloween.

In the early 1980s, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5 or 4. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014, stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Three states, Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores, and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving, due to what critics refer to as blue laws. The Massachusetts ban on forcing employees to work on major holidays is not a religion-driven “blue law” but part of the state’s Common Day of Rest Law.

According to the Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year (2005)”.

In 2017, Cyber Monday online sales grew to a record $6.59 billion, compared with $2.98 billion in 2015, and $2.65 billion in 2014. However, the average order value was $128, down slightly from 2014’s $160.

Cyber Monday has become the online equivalent to Black Friday and offers a way for smaller retail websites to compete with larger chains. Since its inception, it has become an international marketing term used by online retailers across the world.

Age Has Its Privileges and Discounts

Age has its privileges and a goodly variety of discounts. Starting at age 50, the minimum age for AARP membership, seniors may cash in on numerous deals just for being born on or before the date required for the bargain. Simply flash an ID to collect on most discounts. Some discounts apply only to AARP members and some are offered only by select chain franchisees.

AMC – Senior tickets for moviegoers 60 and up cost less than regular admission at AMC movie theaters.

AMTRAK – Hop aboard. Amtrak tickets go for 15 percent less off the lowest fare to travelers who are at least 62 years old.

ANCESTRY WORLD EXPLORER – AARP members eager to dig deep into their roots get a 30 percent price cut on an annual subscription (regularly $299) to Ancestry World Explorer.

BEST WESTERN – Room rates drop at least 10 percent at Best Western for AARP members and guests 55 and up when reserving online or with a company representative.

BONEFISH GRILL – Fans of fresh fish and wood-grilled meats who also belong to AARP get to enjoy their meal, minus alcoholic beverages, at a 15 percent savings at Bonefish Grill.

BUDGET – AARP members can rent a truck from Budget on Sunday through Thursday and save 20 percent, or opt for Friday or Saturday and save 10 percent.

CARRABBA’S – At Carrabba’s Italian Grill, AARP members can save 10% off their entire dining bill everyday (excluding alcohol, applicable taxes, and gratuity).

CHOICE HOTELS – Choice Hotels, which includes Quality Inn, Sleep Inn and Comfort Inn, shaves room fees up to 10 percent for AARP members or travelers age 60 and older. Advance reservations required.

CONSUMER CELLULAR – Consumer Cellular’s deal for AARP members includes rates as low as $10 a month with a 5 percent monthly discount and a 30 percent reduction on accessories.

DENNY’S – Denny’s offers a special menu with lower prices for guests 55 and older.

DRESSBARN – Dressbarn’s senior discount of 10 percent goes to shoppers age 62 and up for in-store purchases on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, depending on the store.

DUNKIN’ DONUTS – AARP members score at Dunkin’ Donuts when purchasing a large or extra-large beverage. The winnings: a free donut.

GOODWILL – Wednesdays are Senior Day at Goodwill, when customers age 55 and up enjoy 20 percent savings.

GRAND CANYON RAILWAY AND HOTEL – AARP members enjoy a 15 percent discount on travel and lodging at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, including the RV park and a two-night “Canyon Explorer” package.

HILTON – Hilton Worldwide offers up to 10 percent off stays at Hilton Hotels Resorts, DoubleTree, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites, Conrad Hotels Resorts, and other properties owned by the hospitality chain.

HYATT – Hyatt offers senior guests with advance reservations a discount worth up to 50 percent at the brand’s hotels in the Lower 48 and Canada.

IHOP – No need for a coupon at IHOP. A special menu of pancakes, eggs, and French toast is already discounted for senior diners, starting at age 55.

KOHL’S – Starting at age 55, Kohl’s shoppers can show an ID to claim a 15 percent discount on Wednesdays at this department store chain.

LA QUINTA INNS AND SUITES – La Quinta Inns Suites offers AARP members up to 10 percent off room rates, as well as discounts for guests 65 and older.

LENSCRAFTERS – LensCrafters marks down a lenses and frame combo, including prescription sunglasses, by 30 percent for AARP members. Order a pair of Transitions lenses with a frame and save 40 percent.

MARRIOTT – Guests at Marriott hotels save at least 15 percent on room rates worldwide once they’ve reached the age of 62.

MCCORMICK AND SCHMICK’S – Seafood restaurant McCormick Schmick’s gives AARP members 10 percent off food, non-alcoholic beverages, and retail merchandise for up to five guests.

MICHAELS – Hobbyists age 55 and older qualify for a 10 percent price reduction every day at Michaels, the arts and crafts retailer.

MOTEL 6 – Motel 6 gives AARP members a 10 percent price cut in addition to free Wi-Fi and a late checkout at 2 p.m.

OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE – At Outback Steakhouse, seniors with an AARP membership get a 15 percent discount off the tab for lunch or dinner, minus alcoholic beverages, as long as the order isn’t placed online. Some locations may not participate.

PEARLE VISION – Present an AARP membership card at Pearle Vision and pay 30 percent less for a complete pair of glasses (lenses and frames) and up to 20 percent on contact lenses.

RAMADA – Ramada hotel customers age 60 and older are entitled to 10 percent off the best available rate at participating locations.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES – Travelers age 65 and older are eligible for fare savings and fully refundable tickets on Southwest Airlines.

STARWOOD HOTELS AND RESORTS – The Starwood family of hotels and resorts, including Sheraton and Westin, grant AARP members reductions of 5 to 15 percent off the best available rate.

SUPER 8 – Participating Super 8 hotels discount rooms by 10 percent off the best available rate for guests 60 and older.

UNITED AIRLINES – United Airlines offers reduced fares to select destinations for passengers 65 and older. Ask for details when booking a flight or select the “seniors” category when booking on the company site.

VERIZON WIRELESS – The Nationwide 65 Plus program at Verizon Wireless entitles existing customers 65 and older to 200 minutes for $29.99 a month.