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Thank$giving

Every year Christmas seems to come earlier. To some people, the universal feelings of charity, goodwill, and joy that Christmas brings may be the cause of this sensation. Of course, it might be because the shopping season starts earlier. Black Friday has traditionally been the official start of the Christmas shopping season as families line up outside of Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and other mega stores to buy gifts at a sensational markdown (and occasionally get in a fight or two). However, the official start of Black Friday has been creeping closer and closer to becoming Black Thursday, which has traditionally been called Thanksgiving.

In October of 2013, Macy’s decided to allow its doors to open at 8:00 PM Thursday night, firmly within the frame of football watching and turkey eating. Of course, Macy’s received criticism from many “Thanksgiving purists”. Although some people may be offended by this attempt to demean this sacred American holiday which combines Football, cranberry sauce, and systematic genocide into something “shallow”, Macy’s believes that an earlier opening time will bring in new customers eager to get their hands on white hot deals rather than white meat.

In 2011, Toys “R” Us opened at 9PM on Thanksgiving, with Target and Lord & Taylor following suit the next year. These companies see the benefit of earlier and earlier start times for Black Friday. Since many of these stores offer similar products at similar discounts, they can win the commerce from buyers eager to get their shopping out of the way. Disgruntled customers may disapprove of Macy’s tactics, but that won’t stop them from coming to the store for the more “sacred” Friday shopping spree. Not to mention the amount of free publicity stores get as news commentators give their two cents. Until these companies find a Nash Equilibrium, they will continue moving up the start date. In this situation, earlier opening times represent the dominant strategy. Some people speculate that Black Friday may even morph into Black Wednesday. Who knows? Eventually, Black Friday may be pushed back until April 17th, also known as the date speculated to be Jesus’s actual birthday.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-15/the-game-theory-behind-macys-thanksgiving-opening

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