"The economic economy, feeling good about itself having found a good deal, being an astute consumer," she said, all adds up to a key factor. Also, since many stores offer Black Friday sales, it is easier to find rebates without having to research as much as you do during the rest of the year.
But, Erdem said, another reason Black Friday remains so popular is tradition.
"It still has its appeal because of this ritualistic aspect," she said. "It's like going to a big major baseball game or to the Super Bowl as an American family."
[See how one family spent their Black Friday last year.]
Consider that the National Retail Federation surveyed 7,516 consumers about their shopping plans this year, and 26% of those planning to shop at Black Friday said it was by tradition. Another 23% said they would buy because it is just something to do. (As far as we know, no one was asked if they are buying just to get away from family members.)
Of course Black Friday is just the beginning of things. If retailers do not start cashing in before Thanksgiving – most seem to be using the year-end shopping season to sell merchandise at every turn. The biggest discounts tend to appear on the "Super Saturday" – the last Saturday before Christmas, said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail analysis company.
But Black Friday does not matter. Consumers interviewed by the retail federation said they plan to buy more at Black Friday than any other day of Thanksgiving.
And Black Friday holds the cultural cache, especially for the "New Americans," Johnson said, since recent immigrants are more likely to participate. "That's how you learn to be an American consumer, showing up and shopping on Black Friday."
– Zach Wichter
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