The hype has been building since early October when Costco started selling 9-foot-tall, fully-decorated and lighted artificial Christmas trees. Pleasanton’s Walmart wasn’t far behind with its gaily decorated and enclosed yard-goods patio stocked for Christmas, with pre-Black Friday deals started Nov. 9.
At Stoneridge Shopping Center, breakfast with Santa at California Pizza Kitchen on Dec 2 sold out long ago. In fact, Santa has been waiting to greet good little boys and girls in the mall’s Grand Court since Nov. 4.
Kohl’s in the Metro 580 Center beat the Black Friday nighttime shopping rush by staying open until 11 p.m. every night this week. Yesterday, employees and shoppers barely had time to enjoy a turkey dinner before heading back to the store when it re-opened at 5 p.m. Kohl’s has stayed open ever since, closing tonight at midnight.
San Francisco Premium Outlets opened at 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and will stay open until 10 p.m. tonight. Sears opened 11 a.m. yesterday for only the second year in a row that it’s been open on Thanksgiving Day.
There’s reason for all this, of course. Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, a day when not only shoppers look for the best buys during the holidays, but also when retailers hope to make their most profits after months of red margins in a weak year for brick and mortar stores.
Certainly, and especially in this economy, anything that brings people into those stores is welcome. They need the old fashion foot traffic as shopping goes increasingly online. After all, digital doors are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase between 3.6-4% this year, to nearly $679 billion dollars.
That could be good news for downtown Pleasanton, which is also on board with its version of Black Friday. The big celebration comes tomorrow when Pleasanton celebrates "Small Business Saturday." It’s part of a national effort to drive shoppers to local merchants.
Thirty Downtown Pleasanton businesses will be participating with special discounts on shopping, dining and services. Balloons, stickers, shopping bags, pet bandanas, pens and more will be given to customers throughout the day as a thank you for supporting local businesses. Free photos with Santa will be offered at the Museum on Main located at 603 Main St. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Both locally and nationally, Black Friday has taken on the characteristics of traditional holidays. Like those, it now occurs on a predesignated day each year. People anticipate it and mark the date. Across the breadth of the nation they are absent from work to observe it. And when the day arrives, they congregate like. . .well, like congregations.
Newspaper columnist Bob Greene observed a few years back that Black Friday has become a holiday of its own. Moreover, it has shrugged off the confines of its name and has now established squatters' rights on Thursday, even starting in October at some stores. It is the only “holiday” that exists solely to sell merchandise. It celebrates nothing; it commemorates only itself. It is an annual festival of the cash register.
We have yet to see earnest groups of Black Friday aficionados going door-to-door singing Black Friday carols. But just give them time.