Internet shopping and 'event dilution' take frenzy out of Black Friday

People are still out shopping, but the days of Black Friday triggering a feeding frenzy outside major retailers seem to have passed.

Black Friday losing its shine as a shopping event

Police were present, but massive crowds were not when the doors opened. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

The days of Black Friday triggering a shopping frenzy at big box retailers may have passed.

Or, at least evolved.

David Williams is an associate professor at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan.

David Williams (CBC)
"Black Friday is still a big shopping event, it's just not the biggest," he said. 

Wiliams said a handful of factors are combining to change the event. One is something that Williams calls "event dilution." Black Friday is no longer a single day retail event. It's now tied in with Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Williams said that consumers are increasingly savvy about these marketing gimmicks. It's difficult to convince shoppers that the day is a big deal when they know there will be other retail events.

"The surprise is gone," he said.

Another element is the popularity of online shopping. Buyers can avoid line-ups and bad weather, shopping instead from their home. Plus, customers know that prices can be adjusted instantly online.

Johnathon Bortnack (CBC)
Johnathan Bortnack ventured out early this morning to the east side Best Buy in Saskatoon. He said the only reason he dropped into the store because he could get into it easily.

"I just wanted to look at the deals and we drove by and noticed there wasn't a line going out all around the side so we thought we'd just come in and take a look at the deals," he said.

Bortnack was checking virtual reality goggles. He'd done some basic research on prices earlier in the week, and was still deciding whether the prices today warranted buying.

Laura Peters, meanwhile, was in a checkout line with a home security system tucked under her arm.

Laura Peters (CBC)
"The security system I bought today was $150 off and that was a good enough deal for me to feel secure in my home," she said.

Peters had come to Best Buy after shopping for her nine-month-old son at Toys 'R Us. She said that whether she buys goods on sale depends on whether the discounted prices represent true savings — and how much money she has available.