Should Small Businesses Really Embrace Black Friday?


Black Friday is, without a doubt, the most infamous shopping day in the country. Period. No questions asked.

The hype and craze surrounding the day after Thanksgiving are no fluke; businesses today feed off the frantic shoppers coming through their doors like never before. Take a look at what some of these Black Friday statistics:
  • 225,000,000 people shopped on Black Friday last year 
  • Retailers expect Black Friday to grow by 3.1% this year
  • 37% of American adults will go shopping on Black Friday (more than one in three)
History tells us that such shoppers are willing to spend, too. Last year, shoppers spent a record $59 billion over the course of Black Friday weekend and we can only imagine how much they’ll spend this year. It seems as if the sky’s the limit and more and more shoppers rush to get the best deals, year after year.

Despite the hype surrounding the sales, a question emerges:

Should Small Businesses Really Embrace Black Friday?

The argument that small businesses should forego the madness of Black Friday is certainly worth pondering. Consider how Black Friday...
  • Primarily benefits big box companies and corporations versus small businesses
  • Often highlights the negative aspects of American consumerism
  • Undermines the remainder of the holiday season in terms of shopping and sales 
Big Box Friday?

There’s little denying that Black Friday is a big box affair. Shoppers crowd the Wal-Marts and Targets of the country, forming line upon line for the best deals on the latest and greatest. The ability to offer such sales en masse simply isn’t possible for the average SMB. How can small businesses possibly stand a chance against the giants?

A potential solution comes in the form of Small Business Saturday. Meant to highlight the “little guy,” as it were, Small Business Saturday is a much different beast than Black Friday. Rather than focusing on the best deals and shopping sensations, Small Business Saturday encourages the support of local communities and businesses versus their big box competitors. Rather than attracting the most rabid shoppers, small businesses can reach out to more conscious buyers.

Still, some SMBs may feel that they’re missing out by not hopping on the Black Friday bandwagon. But are they really?

Wants and Needs

Perhaps the country’s consumerist culture doesn't cross of the minds of many on a daily basis. On Black Friday, however, the discussion comes full force. To many, the holidays represent a time for us to measure wants versus needs. To others, it represents a time to feed our craving to spend, spend, and spend. Do we really need the 72” television just because it’s on sale? Do we really need to wait twelve hours in the snow for it? Year after year we see the YouTube clips of Black Friday riots which make us wonder; isn't this the exact opposite of the holiday spirit?

On the flip side, if people are looking for the best deals and are willing to wait it out, does it really matter? Some might argue it’s simply capitalism at work. Others may say that the current Black Friday craze is a sign of the times. That is, buyers are looking for the best deals possible in a fragile economy and will do just about anything to be apart of such deals.

Regardless of your participation, Black Friday represents a prime opportunity to examine what your business provides its customers in terms of wants, needs and value.

Leaving Businesses in the Dark?

Many Americans do just about all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday (a projected 72% will do some or all of their shopping over the course of the weekend) And why not? Black Friday presents an opportunity for buyers to get the best deals and ultimately condense the headache of holiday shopping into a few hours.

But what does this mean for businesses that don’t participate in Black Friday? Do they simply miss out? It’s definitely a question to ponder. Are businesses predisposed to participating in Black Friday or does the choice to not do so simply represent natural selection for SMBs? Remember, small businesses have plenty of options when it comes to marketing for the holidays. Participating in Black Friday is yet another one of those options.

The Bottom Line

The argument is open to interpretation and there certainly is no clear cut answer from the average small business owner. Examine the pros and cons for yourself and what they mean for your business. Ask yourself: should small businesses be a part of Black Friday?

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at

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