Black Friday, the unofficial kickoff to holiday shopping, has been both beaten down and hyped up over the past several years. But the true value of the annual sales event lies somewhere in between.
Despite falling the day after Thanksgiving, retailers' Black Friday deals have been trickling out all month — including Amazon's 35-day extravaganza that began last week. Many bricks-and-mortar players are sticking with Thanksgiving Day doorbuster deals, including Macy's hour-earlier opening time.
They're also extending deals later in the season, like Target's extra week of free shipping. And as more shoppers make their purchases on the web, Black Friday is going digital this year, with companies like Kohl's launching the day's deals on their sites for the first time.
Generally, retailers were offering discounts that were lower heading into the sales event, as they entered into the holiday season with less inventory than in 2015. That year, a bout of unseasonably warm weather left them saddled with extra merchandise that they had to clear through before Black Friday began.
While all these antics before and after Black Friday build buzz about the annual sales event, they also spread sales out to other days — and take a bite out of its foot traffic. Yet for all the talk about how meaningless the day has become, it's still seen continuing its reign as the busiest day of the season, according to ShopperTrak.