Black Friday: How Brands Are Fighting the Retail Apocalypse

By Melissa Duko, November 09, 2017

The origin of Black Friday goes a little something like this: Retailers who were operating at a loss (in the red) rebounded (went into the black) thanks to holiday shoppers who snagged discounted goods the day after Thanksgiving.   

Black Friday has always been an opportunity for retailers to recover from lackluster year-long sales. But this year’s Black Friday has a lot of weight on its shoulders. With the retail apocalypse affecting so many businesses, there’s more on the line than ever before.

Here's how a few retailers are pivoting their traditional Black Friday strategies to regain some ground (or if you’re Amazon, stay ahead of the curve).   

Toys "R" Us Rolling Out the Deals

One of the retail apocalypse’s victims, Toys "R" Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in September. Now that the toy giant has a chance to restructure their debt, they’ll likely push heavily discounted deals to lure customers back.

Toys R Us.jpg

Source: Snopes

It’s expected high-priced items like game consoles will be discounted. But a word of caution, should Toys "R" Us go completely under, those warranties will likely be void.

GameStop Open Thanksgiving

Since 2014, GameStop has closed its doors on Thanksgiving, but not this year. Although GameStop says the change was requested by store associates and guests, the store’s earnings paint a different picture.  


Source: Mashable

Last year’s holiday season was the company’s weakest in over 10 years. And GameStop has been shuttering stores, on average 100+ each year since 2013, too. They can’t allow the competition (e.g. Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy) to grab a huge chunk of the business during Black Friday.

Related Post: How to Survive the Homebody Epidemic

Sure, being closed on Black Friday used to garner a company good PR. But at this point, good PR isn’t paying the bills.

Walmart Using VR to Prep Their Workers

One retailer that hasn’t been hurt by the retail apocalypse is Walmart. The wholesale giant is anticipating they’ll be busier than ever on Black Friday. So, to prepare their workers, they’ve been using Virtual Reality (VR) to train their employees for one of the busiest shopping days of 2017.

Related Post: Blurred Lines: Why Smell Is the Next Big Thing in Virtual Reality

Walmart VR.jpg

Source: The Verge

Through the simulation, employees get a feel for how crowded the store can get, which areas will attract the most shoppers (e.g. electronics department), and how to handle massive lines. It’s a brilliant move to get employees ready to provide excellent customer service under extreme pressure.

Macy’s Offering Discounts on Cosmetic Lines  

To balance out sluggish apparel sales, more department stores are shifting their focus to beauty. Department stores like Macy’s are offering discounts on cosmetic lines, which have historically always been exempt from promotions.

Related Post: Top 5 Shopify Apps to Boost Your Ecommerce Sales


Source: Retail Wire

Expect to see Macy’s offer irresistible savings on your favorite high-end makeup during Black Friday.

Big Box Retailers Pushing Deals on iPhone X

Apple beat the holiday rush by launching their iPhone X in September, and the smartphone is expected to be a hot commodity this holiday season. If customers can resist the urge to buy right away, they’ll be in store for some sweet deals this Black Friday.


Source: The Verge

Look for retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and Amazon to offer the best deals on the new iPhone.   

Amazon Melding Ecommerce With Brick-and-Mortar

Ecommerce growth is expected to climb 15.8% this holiday season. And Amazon continues to dominate the ecommerce landscape. Last year 38% of U.S. retail ecommerce sales took place on Amazon.

Clearly, Amazon has nothing to worry about this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean they want to lose their competitive edge in the market place. In conjunction with their ecommerce stronghold, they’ve been incorporating brick-and-mortar offerings with physical pick up locations, bookstores, and grocers.

They’ve also partnered with retailer Kohl’s, who will accept return items from Amazon plus sell Alexa, Fire TV, and other Amazon electronics in 10 Kohl’s stores. Talk about a game-changer.

Now not only will they have sales online, but in-store as well.

Amazon Books.jpg

Source: Amazon

Last year Amazon spread their Black Friday sales over two weeks, starting sales as early as November 14. Get ready because it’s anticipated they’ll do the same this year.

So, What About Cyber Monday?

As Black Friday bleeds into Cyber Monday, there won’t be much difference between the two mecca shopping days. It’s likely Cyber Monday will be a continuation of holiday sales that will hopefully push retailers into the black and away from the retail apocalypse cliff.

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko