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Black Friday Tanks With Consumers

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JET, which recently went all digital after 60-plus years as an iconic print magazine, is highlighting Black entrepreneurs, executives and innovators in the technology space.  Meet our contributing writer, Emile Cambry Jr., and be sure to send us the names of those you believe deserve similar shine.  Send more Upload ideas to him via digitalpitches@ebony.com and put “Upload” in the subject line.  

This week, he discusses the consumer impact on Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday in 2014, widely regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, declined significantly compared to last year. In 2013, 141 million Americans shopped on Black Friday, with total sales reached almost $60 billion. According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, Black Friday sales this year was down 11 percent.

According to several analysts, including the National Retail Federation, an improved economy, early promotions, and online shopping contributed to the decline. The National Retail Federation CEO, Matthew Shay stated, “A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions, and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend.”

What about the boycotts that were widely shared on social media? Didn’t that have an effect?

This is where data becomes instrumental. Indeed, last year’s Nielsen report shows a downward trend in Black Friday, with increased significance of Cyber Monday. Despite this, we cannot discount the effect the Ferguson decision and subsequent boycotts had on purchases. Anecdotally, my social media feeds were inundated with “not one dime” hashtags, and as polarizing the grand jury decision was, I noticed a high degree of passion behind spreading the word about the boycott. But it could just be some selection bias because of the folks I associate with.

This could be the beginning of some powerful data that could be captured and integrated into future campaigns. With African-American buying power projected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015, solidarity on consumer purchases would have a profound effect.

Imagine an America if African-Americans harnessed their collective buying power to empower our communities and stimulate job growth in areas that need it the most. Perhaps this year’s Black Friday was a result of a better economy and extended hours to shop, but I have a feeling current events have more of a profound effect that isn’t being highlighted enough. Further study and evaluation is needed.

About Emile Cambry

Emile Cambry Jr. is the founder and CEO of BLUE1647, a technology and entrepreneurship incubator focused on professional development, workforce development, and business acceleration. Emile was recognized as Crains Chicago Tech 50 in 2014 and was appointed to the first-ever Technology Diversity Council for the City of Chicago and is the STEM Chairman to the 2nd District of Illinois.