EDIT: Black Friday off to an early start

From the advance, online deals to the Thursday night store openings, it seems like Black Friday is getting off to an early start. Some retailers, such as Walmart, Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us will be opening their doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Online deals began even earlier. On Monday, Best Buy offered “Black Friday” specials to its Reward Zone customers.

And for the retailers who refuse to open their doors before Friday, they still promote deals well before the actual day. As early as October, some retailers “leaked” their Black Friday promotions.

A 2012 National Retail Federation report states that every year about 40 percent of consumers start holiday shopping before Halloween. While retailers do not begin holiday advertising until at least October or November, a number of retailers are putting holiday merchandise on the shelves as early as September to cater to consumers’ spending trends, according to the NRF.

Nonetheless, it seems unnecessary to remind consumers of those promotions several weeks before they actually take place. The barrage of emails and in-store signage remind consumers that Black Friday is approaching, but unless those deals are currently taking place, it is unlikely people will rush out to the stores to buy, buy, buy.

Over the years, financial experts have called the economic benefits of Black Friday into question, arguing that the short-term surge in sales provide small economic relief. While some major retailers in 2011 reported many sales on the day of, their numbers throughout the rest of the season were mediocre at best, according to an article in The Washington Post in December 2011.

While Black Friday might provide some small assistance to the economy, the early advertisements seem unnecessary. Consumers do not have to be reminded that Black Friday is approaching. We seem to be at the point where Black Friday is so universally recognized that these reminders are not needed. Not only are they not needed, but they are also annoying.

Looking forward, it will be interesting to see whether Black Friday’s early start will translate into increased sales. With the incentive to shop sooner, will people spend more? Really, only time will tell.

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