UACES Facebook War over Thanksgiving won, Black Friday commences
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War over Thanksgiving won, Black Friday commences

By Lisa Lakey

For the U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • National Retail Federation predicts Nov-Dec sales to be $655.8B
  • ShopperTrak study finds sales did not increase at open-on-Thanksgiving stores
  • Hendrix: When shopping on Black Friday, pace yourself, do homework ahead of time

(620 words)

calculator and credit card on top of a calendar marked with Friday as black friday

LITTLE ROCK -- Not too long ago, consumers hoping to scoop up the hottest items at the lowest prices woke long before the crack of dawn to stand in even longer lines on Black Friday. More recently, in what has been dubbed “the war on Thanksgiving,” shoppers have hit the stores before those tasty leftovers have gotten cold. In some cases, even before the bird hit the oven.

But 2016 might just be known as the year Thanksgiving won.

The war seemingly over as large retailers including the Mall of America, announce they will be closed to allow their employees time to celebrate the holiday with their families. However, it’s a decision that’s as much about the bottom line as it is about families, according to the latest info from ShopperTrak, a retail analytics company. ShopperTrak said its studies show that rather than increasing profits, the extra day of shopping didn’t actually increase sales, just dispersed them differently.

There’s a lot at stake.

The National Retail Federation expects retail sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) to increase 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion. Online sales are forecast to increase between 7 and 10 percent over last year to as much as $117 billion. Retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with last year’s 675,300 holiday positions. 

“Unless there is a big increase in sales for that time period, it might not be worth the additional cost of staying open – utilities, security, holiday pay for employees,” said Laura Hendrix, an assistant professor of family and consumer economics for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Also, it looks like online spending is growing larger proportionately. It probably doesn’t cost much to keep online ordering available and that seems to be the biggest increase for shoppers. I suspect that if there was a big enough return on investment for stores, they would continue to open on Thanksgiving.”

While a small handful of retailers have announced their plans to open before Friday, most are sticking with releasing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads early, increasing anticipation as the holidays draw near. Some retailers, such as Amazon, offer quite a few deals leading up to the most anticipated shopping days of the year.

Planning ahead makes a difference.

Whether you plan on hitting the stores before dawn on Black Friday or hitting the couch the following Monday, Hendrix suggests planning ahead by checking ads, making a list (check it twice!), checking websites for any coupons that can be combined and setting a spending limit before opening your wallet.

Here, she offers a few more tips for shoppers this season:

  • Read the details – Know if deals are marked as “door busters” or “limited” supplies, and know the return policies before you purchase. “Price match policies may vary during Black Friday,” Hendrix warned. “Sometimes you can save time by asking for a price match of an item that’s on sale somewhere else. However, some stores that typically offer price matching may not do so Black Friday.” 
  • Know if it’s really a bargain – “Know the real price,” Hendrix said. “Is it something you really want or need? Is it a quality product?” 
  • Pace yourself – “Plan ahead to know when stores open and where you’ll go when for the best prices,” she said. “Save some room in your holiday budget for future purchases. Remember, there are still bargains to be had at Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday and Cyber Monday.”
  • Beware of impulse buys – “Advertised sale items are designed to get you in the door,” Hendrix said. “Store displays are designed to prompt impulse buys.”

 For more information about consumer spending, visit or contact your county extension office.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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 Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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