Cyber Monday And The Slow Death Of Black Friday
I'm going to come straight out and say it, so you're aware I'm working from a bit of a bias: although I positively love all the sales and discounts available on Black Friday, I positively loathe the day itself. It effectively represents everything negative about consumerism; historically, it's caused shoppers all across North America to conveniently forget that they're rational human beings. Instead, their brains switch off, and they immediately descend into an illogical frenzy of consumption only made worse by the turkey comas they still haven't quite recovered from.
For a reasonable simulation of this event, watch George A. Romero's Dawn of The Dead. Just imagine the people are products on sale.
Right, time to hop down off the soapbox. I actually do have a point here aside from whinging about crowded malls and frothing bargain hunters. I'm here to talk about Cyber Monday.
Back in 2005, online shopping was still trying to get onto its feet. People simply didn't want to bother shopping online. Back then, it was far more convenient to simply travel bodily to the store and browse. One of the efforts marketing agencies made to inspire more people to use the Internet for their purchases was the invention of Cyber Monday - a sales day completely devoted to online deals which took place immediately after Black Friday.
Then Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, and online shopping exploded.
A lot has changed since 2005. Advances in networking and mobile technology have quite literally made it possible to shop from anywhere at any time. Retailers have gradually phased out the "online vs. offline" debate with the realization that a multi-channel approach is indeed the soundest stance to take, while streaming services and digital distribution have all but revolutionized the delivery of media and entertainment products.
That said, there's still a growing split in purchasing habits. Consumers are - slowly but surely - shifting their spending habits from offline to online. Consequently, sales at digital storefronts are increasing at a far greater rate than offline sales - 8.2% to a paltry 3.4% from January-October, 2013. One reflection of this growing trend towards digital purchases is that there exists a growing camp of men and women who are completely disinterested in Black Friday.
"Why waste time going to the store and dealing with savage crowds and hours-long lines," they ask, "when I can just log in from home and buy all I need there?" Why, indeed?
That Black Friday is gradually shifting towards a digital front is effectively irrelevant here: Cyber Monday offers many of the same deals through retailers like Amazon, without any of the hassle, and offers a much more impressive selection of digital goods than what Black Friday has to give.
In essence, Cyber Monday is either very slowly killing Black Friday or forcing it to evolve into something completely apart from what it once was. Since people aren't forced to leave the house in order to access the plethora of grand sales and deals, they're likelier to want to spend Thanksgiving with their families. After all, why shop on someone else's terms when they can just shop on their own?
Now, granted, Black Friday isn't going to be going anywhere for quite a while. It'll still be a day of gleeful consumerism for many years to come. That said, Cyber Monday is very quickly gaining ground. Eventually, it's going to overtake its predecessor - it's just a question of when.