Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach. It’s going to be ugly

If you’re of a certain age you remember when the holiday shopping season had a clear starting point.

In the United States it was late in the morning on Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the third Thursday of November, at the conclusion of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when Santa Claus made his first public appearance of the year.

Kids across the country, glued to the television, cheered as Kris Kringle made his way down Broadway. And parents made plans to start their shopping the next morning.

There were similar start-of-the-season moments across the world. In London, families journeyed to see the lighting of Christmas lights on Oxford Street and the unveiling of window displays in Hamleys. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the arrival of the Bishop Saint Nicholas and Black Peter, kicks things off in mid-November. Christmas season starts in September in the Philippines!

But in recent years, across the globe, something of the innocence that marked the start of the holiday shopping season has faded. The emphasis on “holiday” faded as the emphasis on “shopping” grew.

The day after Thanksgiving turned into Black Friday. And Black Friday quickly turned dystopian. People died in the rush for bargains.

Inevitably, too, an online alternative arose; Cyber Monday debuted in 2005.

Also inevitably, workers and consumers pushed back against the shopping frenzy. REI launched its #OptOutside initiative in 2015, closing their stores on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

This year’s holiday shopping season is shaping up as a strange mix of an endless Cyber Monday, an industrywide #OptOutside movement, and a long delayed Amazon Prime Day.

It’s also shaping up as a nightmare for performance marketers, who face competition for eyeballs unlike any previous year.

We have some ideas, if you’d like to hear them.

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