If ‘Black Friday’ no longer works, how about Five-Day Frenzy or Retail Playoffs?

Black Friday
Customers line up outside a Chicago-area Kmart store before Black Friday 2015.
(Jean-Marc Giboux / Associated Press)

Black Friday is still hanging on as our catchall name for the kickoff of the holiday shopping season. But it’s no longer a very good one, because the event has metastasized into several days and Friday is losing ground as the most important day of the shopping bonanza.

So, my fellow shoppers, it’s high time we come up with a moniker that better describes the start of the shopping season. Just think: Maybe we’ll no longer have to say confusing things to our friends like, “Want to go Black Friday shopping with me on Thursday?”

To get the brainstorming started, I decided to ask the people who probably think about this topic more than anybody: Retailers and the industry consultants and experts who advise them.

My inquiry to home-shopping channel QVC was a reminder that this isn’t so easy. They told me they’ve taken up this exercise in the past, trying to re-christen Cyber Monday as Mobile Monday back in 2012. Given the number of ads I’ve seen trumpeting Cyber Monday deals this year, it’s safe to say this noble effort didn’t catch on.


E-commerce giant EBay says it uses the term Cyber 12 to describe the holiday season launch, a period it defines as Thanksgiving and the 11 days that follow it.

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“Once Thanksgiving hits, we actually see a steady rush that runs throughout December. We refer to this period as ‘cyber’ because, for consumers today, mobile and online shopping touch almost all of their shopping activities,” said Hal Lawton, the head of EBay’s North America business.

Paula Rosenblum, a retail analyst at Retail Systems Research, suggests the Five-day Frenzy, a name that better captures how this thing has become a marathon instead of a one-day sprint. Speaking of sports metaphors, GameStop says its team members have sometimes referred to this period as the Retail Playoffs.


At consulting firm ThoughtWorks Retail, strategists say Holiday Shipstorm might best capture the status quo of this year’s shopping situation, since more shoppers will be buying online and, meanwhile, a recent survey showed that most retailers believe they are not well-prepared to provide a wide array of choices for shipping, such as same-day or after-hours delivery.

Overstock executives said they tossed around a few ways to rename Black Friday in their promotions this year, including calling it Retail Therapy Weekend or Shopping Staycation. They ultimately settled on A Window of Opportunity — we’ll see if that gets any traction.

Joe Jackman, a retail industry consultant, said maybe we should designate the one-two punch of Thanksgiving and the day after as Banksgiving and Fall-Back Friday. Banksgiving, of course, because retailers are pulling down big bucks, and Fall-Back Friday because it’s become something of a second fiddle to the deals that come Thursday or earlier.

Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing and branding at New York University’s Stern School of Business, suggested we go with “The day I get to trample someone online to save 8 bucks on a Nespresso.”

Need more inspiration first? Here’s what we know about how we’re likely to shop during the days-long cascade of deals between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday: Some 41% of shoppers plan to hit stores on Black Friday, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Meanwhile, 15% of shoppers plan to do so on Thanksgiving Day and 32% plan to visit stores on Cyber Monday.

Sarah Halzack is the Washington Post’s national retail reporter.



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