Black Friday 2012: Where to Find the Best Deals Online, And How Social Media is Reinventing Black Friday

I asked my students who would be sleeping in on Black Friday (like me!) and who would be out and about. About half of the class raised their hands and said that they had plans with moms and aunts, sisters and friends to venture out early on Black Friday to find the best deals possible. They will be venturing out with the estimated 147 million shoppers who will be on the lookout for great deals over the weekend.

What is it about Black Friday that gets some people out of bed on a vacation day? Is it the sales? Is it the shopping adventure? Is it the time together? Is it the hunt for the best deals? It seems like it is all of the above — even if some gals were not too concerned with what they might buy, they were all intrigued to find out what exciting deals were waiting for them at the mall.

Black Friday started in the 1960s on the day after Thanksgiving as a way for retailers to get a jump-start on holiday sales. Today, many stores open in the wee hours of 4 to 6 a.m. But now many are trying to get a head start, opening at midnight or even earlier — like 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  

Traditionally, retailers would build anticipation by announcing their sales in the paper on Thanksgiving. But this year, it seems like advertisements are on TV, in the paper, and online the week before, in an effort to boost sales and get shoppers excited about planning their Black Friday shopping expedition. 

Some retailers are building on the dialogue they have with consumers, by sharing their sales plans through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, email, text messaging, and mobile ads. Shoppers are using social media to generate ideas for shopping and plan to spend an average of $749.51 this year, slightly up from $740.57 last year primarily on family and friends.

Yahoo.com reported that because Thanksgiving is so early this year, it will feel like one big long sale from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The National Retail Federation estimates that we’ll be buying clothing and toys and many gift cards. Gottadeal.com predicts that electronics will also be big sellers this year, including tablets, HDTVs, smart phones, and laptops. You can even sign up on that site for email updates about sales news, if you want to get a head start at your favorite retailer!

There are several sites with sales information about this holiday, including TheBlackFriday.com and BlackFriday.com. Not to be outdone, CyberMonday.com is also ready for the next wave of tech-savvy consumers by announcing hourly sales deals on Cyber Monday, free shipping at many merchants, and online specials through many e-tailers.

If you are a shopper who loves the thrill of the deal, your favorite merchant is ready and waiting to be a part of your family shopping tradition!

Karen Mishra and Aneil Mishra are business school professors and authors of Trust is Everything (2008) and Becoming a Trustworthy Leader (2012)

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Karen Mishra

IMC J-School Grad from UNC-Chapel Hill; Author of two books on Trustworthy Leadership; B-School Professor of Digital Marketing & Global Business

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