Shootings, knifings and stampedes. No, those aren’t the headlines from a war zone, just the results from a day of shopping. This year, even more retail stores took crazy a step further and opened their doors to rabid shoppers on Thanksgiving. The results were twice as many injuries, fights and even deaths, and little impact on profits. In fact, Black Friday sales were down 13% from last year. This makes us ask ourselves, how far should a brand go in the name of sales, and did some companies go too far this year?
It’s hard to determine who is to blame for Thanksgiving shopping. Most would say that it’s the big box stores that dragged their employees in on a holiday and made them work long hours under stressful conditions. But in their defense, consumers could have stayed home with their families, but instead came out in angry droves. #Walmartfights became a trending topic Thursday night and candidly showed the darker side of consumerism. It seems that Walmart has gone directly against their value statement about putting people over everything else, which can make them appear unauthentic to their consumers. The question remains whether the bad press hurt the brands, or if consumers will go wherever the biggest sales are, no matter what they think of the company.
On the other side, some companies took a public stand against opening on Thanksgiving. Stores such as Costco, Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory stated that an employee spending the holiday with their family was more important than making money. There’s also a public relations benefit to taking a stand and putting tradition first. Retail stores that didn’t open on Thanksgiving might have missed out on sales for that day, but may gain more customers throughout the month of December because they decided to put people before profit.
There is a constant battle between the traditional side of holidays and consumerism. As a brand, it’s best to toe the line by staying true to your brand values and respecting your customers while offering a great deal. And it’s always wise to keep the hair pulling, trampling and mob mentality to a minimum.
What’s the craziest thing you have seen during Black Friday shopping?