The buzz of Black Friday has fizzled. It's been replaced by an ever-increasing retail arms race that has led to Thanksgiving Day shopping, Wednesday early bird deals and perpetual cyber bargain hunting. Critics bemoan the erosion of the traditional holiday time forcing lower wage retail workers away from their families. They're right. But so are the millions of buyers and their billions of dollars that drive the demand that drives the incessant march toward earlier and earlier holiday shopping seasons. It is a battle between sales and public perception.
Wal-Mart's Black Friday push doesn't begin this Friday. It started last Friday with a pre-Black Friday sale. Best Buy sent out an email blast to its customers touting its advance offers. Macy's, Target, JCPenney and others aren't just opening their doors early Friday morning. They will be open all night Thanksgiving.
The decay of the demarcation between holiday and commerce may be mourned but it's a manifestation of capitalism. Retail shoppers show up for those door-buster deals. They flock to parking lots
and crowd Internet traffic with the hope of securing what they're convinced is a bargain. The stores have to find the balance between bargain and benefit for its shareholders. Cheap TVs don't pay the operating expenses of staying open all night.
Investors will be watching for the winners and losers of this retail reach, especially for those retailers over-reaching and putting profits and public perception at risk in exchange for promotion.
Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. He is the former co-anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report" on public television. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.