It seems every year the competition for Black Friday retail sales intensifies.  Many retailers which once swore they would not open their doors at an hour at which most customers would prefer to be deep in the middle of a good night’s sleep are giving into the competition and opening even earlier than their competitors did a year ago.  Current examples include Target and Best Buy both of which just announced that their stores would be opening nationwide at midnight Black Friday 2011.
In Target’s case, stores will remain open for 23 hours on Black Friday and will close at 11 p.m. Friday, November 25. According to a Target spokeswoman the company’s change in policy is a response to consumer demand.
In addition to announcing its Black Friday 2011 hours, Target also announced other important holiday hours. On Christmas Eve, which is a Saturday this year, Target will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., depending on location. On the day after Christmas, Target will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.  
Also of note, some Target stores will be open on Thanksgiving day, for limited shopping hours. The Denver market’s 29 stores will be open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. MST on Thanksgiving Day to accommodate our guests’ last minute needs. All other Target stores will remain closed on Thanksgiving.  One Chain Store Guide colleague, a former Target associate, noted the stresses these hours and the expected volume of visitors would likely play on Target employees.
Target’s headline grabbing announcement should serve to stoke the flames
of both direct and indirect competitors and likely inspire retailers in general as they hope to end a challenging year on a high note through an economy whose next turn remains largely questionable. 
While traditional retailers are clearly re-examining their Black Friday strategies, what is left for the web based competition?  For the past several years it has been CyberMonday, a concept designed to follow the turmoil of Black Friday with appealing online bargains. 
This concept was introduced at a time when Internet retailers sought a gimmick to lure consumers much as Black Friday did for brick and mortars.  Enter the foresight which is commonly employed at Amazon (nee
Now what is such a growing behemoth to do to combat the brick and mortar community’s increasing focus and successes on Black Friday?  Amazon has decided in one of the few moments that it can’t immediately beat them, to join them in its own inimitable way.  Amazon has announced the opening of its Count Down to Black Friday and Get Early Black Friday Deals store. 
At a unique Count Down to Black Friday section on the company’s all encompassing website, Amazon welcomes ‘early’ visitors by stating that actually Black Friday isn’t until the day after Thanksgiving. They go on to offer a ‘but since you’re here already, looking for Black Friday deals, we thought we’d get the deals going a little early’.  They go on to tell the shopper that they are counting down to Black Friday Deals Week with additional deals each day. So much for spending weeks anticipating Black Friday bargains, much less Cyber Monday specials from competitors.  They also invite customers to, ‘hang out with us on Twitter and Facebook’, while offering daily deal e-mails, iPhone deals app, or just requesting customers visit the website and check the Amazon Browser Bar.
While Black Friday is much anticipated by many through anticipatory websites, the reality often is a several hours wait in a long line outside the store of a chosen retailer.  By the time doors open the masses can essentially turn into angry mobs as consumers realize there is a severe limit to the very best deals which they got up so early to retrieve or missed an entire night’s sleep for.  We all remember at least one recent Black Friday tragedy which resulted in a death at the hands of an unruly mob at a New York area Walmart.
To this Amazon seems to have ventured beyond the web-based retailers’ CyberMonday oasis and realized web retailers easily can outperform brick and mortars even if they limit Black Friday promotions to the actual hours of Black Friday.  Customers lose very little sleep by logging on at midnight, checking the bargains, moving what they desire to their cart, clicking a few button marked continue, and entering address and credit card data when needed.  They can easily visit several sites (not limited to retailers) in a matter of minutes and still get a sound night’s sleep with no danger of being infected by a mob mentality. 
Of course Amazon in its wisdom chooses not to limit its Black Friday hype to the confines of the hours that actually are Black Friday.  Why should they?  With relatively little effort they have added a destination to their website and will decide exactly what specials to feature.  They have the email addresses of customers for inexpensive promotional pieces, are adept in using social media platforms and likely will be selling a wide variety of products during halftimes of the many football games on turkey day.