It’s not just “Thanksgiving” that comes at the end of November for most Americans now, but also “Black Friday.” The latter is almost as much an alternate organizing metaphor for the long weekend’s meaning as the original day of breaking bread, pie slices, and wishbones together.
The Christian Science Monitor even says, in talking about the whole five-day sequence, people “frequently refer to the ‘Black Friday’ season.”
Wait — five days? Well, yes, for now the just-concluded “Cyber Monday” is as much a part of the shopping/holiday weekend as the days that come before it.
“Black Friday” evidently had its origins as a term in 50’s-era Philadelphia, where cops noted the extra shifts of duty to watch over crowds coming into town for the weekend’s Army/Navy football games. The City’s merchants noticed them too, and kept offering specials to kick off the weekend’s shopping, though Thanksgiving weekend — going back to the start of the Macy’s Parade in the 1920’s — has generally been viewed as the “kick off” for seasonal shopping.
And then, in 2005, the term “Cyber Monday” was coined by the National Retail Federation for the “eCommerce” shopping day that followed the big weekend. Back then, the phrase generally meant pulling up websites on your desktop PC — and usually at work, where, an overview on TheStreet says, it was generally assumed that “consumers had a faster and more secure Internet connection… so they would be able to get some online shopping done when in the office.”
In other words, the day was originally hatched for any remaining “follow up” shopping that didn’t take place in person.
But now, while Thanksgiving weekend may still present challenges for police departments near and far, a lot has changed about how “”Black Friday” and Cyber Monday” both work. Indeed, the “Cyber” end of the shopping week may now be the tail wagging the rest of the seasonal dog.
As The Street further notes, “with the ability to shop on a phone, tablet or desktop at any point in time, online shopping is no longer a one-day event. Amazon has clearly picked up on this trend with its eight days of Black Friday deals and eight days of Cyber Week deals.”
Though the Monitor also observes this reconceptualization now extends past not only eight days, and a potential 12 days of Christmas, but even beyond the 24 days of Advent: “This is because retailers (and intrepid deal sites) have been posting Black Friday ads far in advance, sometimes as early as the beginning of October.”
And of course, the idea how customers pay — it’s not just wallets anymore — is changing too. In looking at the expanding role of smartphones in this year’s holiday shopping, the Associated Press says “mobile traffic during the five-day start to what is typically the busiest shopping period of the year was expected to reach 56.9 percent of total traffic, up from 48.5 percent last year, according to IBM Watson.”
“It’s very convenient,” the article says, quoting one putative shopper: “It allows me to keep track of time-sensitive sales without being tied to a computer or having to leave a holiday event or get-together.”
Another payment question about the convenience of Black Friday was how the arrival of EMVs would impact the already-long lines in stores, if customers — and even many retailers — were still getting used to the new Point of Sales devices, and where and how to point that new card with the chip on it.
According to PaymentSource, “the introduction of EMV cards didn’t significantly slow transaction times at U.S. retailers during the Black Friday shopping event.”
But still, “consumers and merchants are both learning that timing – when to dip and when to remove an EMV card from a reader – is everything. Sometimes the terminal will time out if the cardholder inserts the chip card too soon. If the cardholder inserts the card while goods are still being scanned, the transaction will have to start over again.”
That didn’t seem to be a huge issue this past Black Friday. Previously, “Visa merchants reported a 42% increase in chip-on-chip transactions from September to October, jumping to $8.9 billion from $4.8 billion.” The specific numbers for chip transactions from the long holiday weekend aren’t yet available, but “Visa noted that cardholders spent $1.5 billion overall on Thanksgiving, a 22% increase over last year’s $1.2 billion.”
So customers, so far, aren’t fazed by rapidly-changing payment technologies, and at the moment, have been willing to spend, both online and off, whether with the plastic, or the phone app, in their pockets.
So now that the rest of the holiday shopping season is here, be sure you’re as upgraded as your customers. Contact your AVPS rep to see what upgrades are in our holiday stockings, from mobile processing to easy checkout solutions.
More “upgrades and insights” in a week!