The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally known as “Black Friday” because that is when Christmas season starts and many stores go into the green for the year.

However, in recent years, stores opened earlier and earlier, with people lining up at 4:00AM to ensure being the first in the store for “hot specials” or items expected to be in short supply. On occasion, people have been trampled to death in the mad rush to get into stores.

This Thanksgiving, many stores have pushed up the clock to open at Midnight instead of 5 or 6 AM.

Please consider More Retailers Attack at ‘Black Midnight’

Best Buy Co. is joining the list of big store chains opening at midnight after Thanksgiving this year in hopes of getting a jump on the competition, following recent announcements by Target Corp., Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp.

Best Buy’s move—significant since the retailer specializes in big-ticket electronics likely to lure shoppers in the predawn hours—leaves Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as one of the last mass merchants that has not announced it is offering “door-buster” specials as soon as the clock strikes 12 on Nov. 25.

Wal-Mart wouldn’t disclose its plans for this year, a spokesman said. But it has typically held off on selling its most hyped specials until 5 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving, on what is known among retailers as “Black Friday.”

Some retail experts say that store chains are fighting a losing battle to prolong a shopping rite that looks increasingly antiquated compared with the daily deals and flash sales offered by online rivals such as Amazon.com Inc.

“Once one retailer goes early, the rest feel obligated to follow, and you have to wonder what gain there is for any of them,” said Joel Bines, managing director of the global retail practice at consultancy AlixPartners.

Many Wal-Mart stores are open 24 hours, and others opened at midnight on Black Friday last year to sell toys. But the company has thus far postponed selling its discounted flat-screen televisions and other mega deals until just before dawn.

Toys “R” Us Inc. last year opened its doors on Thanksgiving night at 10 p.m. The toy retailer hasn’t announced when it is starting Black Friday sales this year. Walt Disney Co., which has opened some Disney Store locations at midnight on Black Friday for several years, said it is expanding early openings this year to 150 stores. Several retailers now open on Thanksgiving Day itself, including Gap Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp., and the moves by others to start the official Black Friday scramble at midnight mean that more deal seekers will now leave families and start lining up hours earlier on turkey day.

Best Buy, which hopes to reverse five consecutive quarters of sales declines at U.S. stores open at least 14 months, said its early Black Friday activities would actually begin late Thanksgiving night at 9 p.m. with what Mr. Dunn said will be a movie screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2,” which will be released on video Nov. 11.

Death of Black Friday?

Does Black Friday starts at midnight or if this is simply the death of Black Friday? I believe something in between.

Black Friday is on the death-bed but has not yet died. It will. This whole charade is becoming pointless with so many pre-sales and pre-pre-sales and of course pre-pre-pre-sales that eventually no one is going dive a damn.

Unprecedented Drop in Port Traffic

Yet traditions die hard, and people like to shop the day after Thanksgiving. However, a huge drop in port traffic suggests this Christmas season will not be very robust.

I have written about that three times recently.

To what extent is this “Black Midnight” about the need for each retailer to outdo each other vs. the need to do something because all the retailers are scared to death of another miserable shopping season?

The question is moot. Black Friday is on the deathbed, the prognosis for retailers this season does not look good, nor does the prognosis for Black Friday itself in the years to come.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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