Shopping is often the first word that comes to peoples’ minds when they hear Black Friday. The day after the Thanksgiving holiday is usually the busiest shopping day of the entire year, with the number of deals for customers and companies competing with each other to make more money through sales. Here are some tips for business journalists to cover this year’s Black Friday.
But really, when is Black Friday?
Historically Black Friday is always the fourth Friday of November, the day right after Thanksgiving. This year it is November 29 — the unofficial start to the Christmas holiday shopping season.
If Black Friday was once a one-day celebration, lately it has become a month long event. Due to increased competition, companies start sales earlier in order to make more money throughout the holiday season. PCWorld reports that last year some amazing deals started as early as in the beginning of November. Clevelend.com wrote that last year Amazon offered discounts a week before the actual Black Friday. Digitaltrends.com also reports that many retailers are already releasing their discount adds this week and the sales in number of places will continue through the weekend into the Cyber Monday.
According to Balance.com when it comes to online sales, it is better to shop on Thanksgiving Day, rather than on Black Friday, because the average discount is 24 percent. And it is the best day to shop for sporting goods, computers and apparel, while those who want to get deals on TV’s, appliances and jewelry should aim for the following day.
As Black Friday is getting closer, business journalists can have a head start to cover some sales-related stories.
Follow the money
According to the National Retail Federation over 165 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2018, either in store or online. The average person spent $313.29 on different items and the biggest spenders were older millennials and Gen Xers (34-44 years old). People bought mostly apparel, followed by toys, books, video games, electronics and gift cards. So the data indicates that retail companies or those selling apparel are the ones making the most money on Black Friday.
Quartz wrote an article based on Adobe Analytics that showed in 2017 US retailers took in $7.9 billion from online sales throughout Thanksgiving — a 17.9% raise compared to the previous year.
Online shopping has become more and more popular when it comes to Black Friday. You cannot be in different stores at the same time, but you can definitely have several tabs open on your internet browser. With increasing numbers of online shoppers, companies such as Amazon and Walmart have made to the top of the list for the Black Friday sales.
Business Insider wrote that retailers will gain 20% more money on Black Friday this year compared to the previous and online shopping will aim for the new record.
What to write about?
When Black Friday is just days away what customers are usually looking for are tips and tricks to find the best deals and avoid overspending money. Stories like this are usually easy to read and popular among the audience. For example, Business Insider published an article in October about things to buy and things to avoid, concluding that “deals on clothing, toys, Apple devices and furniture are usually not worth it.”
Blackfriday.com can be the place to start your reporting on the deals offered for 2019.
Business journalists can also report on “Black Friday Rivalry.” Back in 2017, The Wall Street Journal published an article “Inside the Wal-Mart vs. Amazon Battle Over Black Friday” highlighting how the retailers used new tactics to attract more customers. When it comes to smaller publications, reporting about local companies could be of interest.
Audiences are also interested in data-based stories. How much are customers spending this year? Who sells the most products? The National Retail Federation can be the first place to start looking into the numbers and forecasts.
For those looking for an interesting angle, the #OptOutside initiative is a great option. USA Today reported that Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) will close its store on Black Friday “to join nation-wide clean-up effort.” The initiative started in 2015 in order to eliminate unnecessary packaging and contribute more to sustainability.