Black Friday has changed.

I remember a time when all the stores tired like hell to keep their ads for the annual Black Friday sale a secret and they’d get so pissed when someone leaked the ad early. These days they make Black Friday a month-long sale:

That’s just from emails I received in the past week or so.

Additionally, there’s a growing trend of sending out the actual Black Friday ads ahead of time. The folks at DealNews.com have a schedule of expected release dates for Black Friday ads. As you can see below, Kohl’s, Dell, Office Depot, and Petco have already sent out their BF ads.

Why, it’s almost like they realized that people wanted this info ahead of time and releasing it early was a good way to stir up interest. Some companies these days are having “Black Friday” sales during other months to try and drum up more sales.

I don’t really have a point to make with this entry, I just thought it was interesting in how things have changed. Once a closely guarded secret and now it’s promoted heavily ahead of time. Partially because it’s become common knowledge that the best deals are to be had on Black Friday. Except it turns out that’s probably not the case at all. Or at least, not on everything you might be shopping for

There are things that are a good deal and things you should probably avoid. The folks at HuffPost had an article last year on what to look for and what to avoid.

Spending on Black Friday had a meteoric rise from $26 billion in 2005 to $67.6 billion as of 2015.

However, competition among retailers and an oversaturation of deals mean ads are leaked increasingly earlier, discounts have become less competitive, and Black Friday has become more like Black November. In fact, the best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday. With the addition of Cyber MondaySuper Saturday and pretty much every other day of the year you can find deep discounts, Black Friday deals aren’t as compelling as they once were.

Black Friday Deals Are Mostly Dead. Here’s What You Should ― And Shouldn’t ― Buy. HuffPost.com

The advice in that article is still pretty solid. Or, you can do like I do, and just avoid it altogether by eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey and playing video games all day on Friday. It probably helps that in the past couple of years I’ve not had the extra money to do any shopping with on Black Friday in the first place, but even if I did I’d probably not bother going out and fighting the crowds. What about you guys? Do you still make the trip out to find the best deals?

Walmart employee trampled to death by Black Friday shoppers.

News stories like this one are what prompted SEB’s tag line. Jdimytai Damour was hired as seasonal help at a Long Island Walmart only to perish under the feet of deal-crazed shoppers this past Friday:

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Wal-Mart worker Jimmy Overby, 43.

“They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me.

“They took me down, too … I didn’t know if I was going to live through it. I literally had to fight people off my back,” Overby said.

Damour, a temporary maintenance worker from Jamaica, Queens, was gasping for air as shoppers continued to surge into the store after its 5 a.m. opening, witnesses said.

Even officers who arrived to perform CPR on the trampled worker were stepped on by wild-eyed shoppers streaming inside, a cop at the scene said.

“They pushed him down and walked all over him,” Damour’s sobbing sister, Danielle, 41, said. “How could these people do that?

“He was such a young man with a good heart, full of life. He didn’t deserve that.”

What the fuck is wrong with you people in Long Island? I love a good deal as much as the next guy, but how you could trample someone to death trying to get a good deal is beyond me. That pic on the left (click to embiggen) is what the scene looked like as the doors opened. They have a whole gallery of pics from this tragedy that shows just how stupid people can be.

Roughly 2,000 people gathered outside the Wal-Mart’s doors in the predawn darkness.

Chanting “push the doors in,” the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.

Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers.

It didn’t work.

The mob barreled in and overwhelmed workers.

“They were jumping over the barricades and breaking down the door,” said Pat Alexander, 53, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “Everyone was screaming. You just had to keep walking on your toes to keep from falling over.”

After the throng toppled Damour, his fellow employees had to fight through the crowd to help him, police said.

Witness Kimberly Cribbs said shoppers acted like “savages.”

“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since Friday morning!’” Cribbs said. “They kept shopping.”

Seriously, what the fuck? Even after you’ve crushed a man to death you insist on shopping? Have you no empathy at all? Are you so bereft of concern for your fellow man that killing him in the mad rush for a deal isn’t enough to give you pause? Couldn’t some of you have stopped and helped this poor man to his feet before he had the life stomped out of him? Help me to understand the insanity of this event, please.

Hat tip to ***Dave who has some choice words of his own.

Deal News.com - Black Friday is no longer a day, it’s a season.

Even though I rarely have extra cash laying around these days I still make a habit of keeping up with various websites such as Deal News.com which specialize in finding and promoting deals (natch). In addition to finding literally hundreds of deals every day they occasionally have an article about shopping such as the following discussing how Black Friday is expanding:

Black Friday Is No Longer a Day, It’s a Season

When most people think of Black Friday, they think of the day after Thanksgiving. But the fact is, over the past several years, the idea of “Black Friday” has been expanding.

In previous years, Black Friday had become a two-day event, since many Black Friday sales are available online on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, however, Wal-Mart upped the ante with its “Secret Sale” promotion. That sale started exactly three weeks before Black Friday. It featured a high-definition DVD player (HD-DVD) for $99, Acer laptop for $348, and 50” plasma TV for $999, prices that are still aggressive a year later. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart received millions of dollars worth of free PR for its “Secret Sale” (a misnomer if ever there was one). Importantly, Best Buy beat Wal-Mart’s price on the HD-DVD player that day, showing a willingness to compete with its own loss leader and getting its own free PR.

Wal-Mart’s goal was to extend the halo from Black Friday into multiple high-buzz sales events throughout November. You’re likely to see the same game plan this year from Wal-Mart, which enters this holiday season much healthier than its competitors. And where Wal-Mart goes, Best Buy, Target, and the others must follow. It’s a live-or-die holiday season for many stores this year. Retailers can’t ignore the power of huge, “Black Friday”-like sales events on the run up to Thanksgiving.

And if a retailer is thinking about not competing, it had better think twice. Four years ago, Wal-Mart skipped Black Friday entirely, with no major ad push and no “doorbusters.” The result was the worst after-Thanksgiving sales weekend for Wal-Mart in years. Retailers who don’t want to compete with Wal-Mart by expanding Black Friday into a month-long event run the risk of having bad sales for an entire month, a death knell for most.

The article goes on to talk about how a lot of stores have to borrow in order to purchase their merchandise and then hope they make enough off the sales to pay off the loan and turn a profit, but with the current credit crunch, thanks to the assholes on Wall Street, that business model is a very difficult one to maintain. Banks are being very stingy with credit and the fact that the banks know consumers are cutting back on unnecessary purchases makes them even less open to giving out credit to retailers. Combine that with the fact that many retailers are struggling and things could get bloody:

Every year, a few struggling retailers file for bankruptcy (or go out of business entirely) after Christmas. It’s a normal cycle. However, that’s changing. Last season, CompUSA started liquidating its stores in early December, and it was completely gone by January. (The new CompUSA is now run by TigerDirect.)

This year, things have gotten worse. Linens ‘n Things is already bankrupt. It’s liquidating its stock online and in stores before closing shop. Circuit City is trying to avert bankruptcy by closing over 100 stores and laying off thousands of employees. Mervyns is closing all 175 stores. JC Penney is in trouble. Sears is closing yet more stores. And it’s just October.

Make no mistake: Thousands of jobs are at stake, and so many stores going out of business is bad over the long-term. But in the short term, these stores must liquidate their inventory. Consumers benefit from liquidation sales. Plus, you’ll soon see more closeouts at stores like Buy.com, Woot, Fry’s Electronics, TigerDirect, and others that resell distressed inventory.

Which means, ironically enough, there’s some excellent deals about to come down the pike. Deal News.com is estimating that the deals we’ll see this season will be the best since the days of the first dot.com bubble (2001):

It’s a perfect storm: Consumers have cut back spending. Stores must slash prices to drive traffic to their stores. Competition and reduced margins will drive struggling stores into bankruptcy. The credit crisis will hammer bankrupt stores, forcing them to auction off their inventory to those liquidators that still have access to cash. And finally, a $2,000 HDTV pops up on Buy.com for $1,199.

I knew I should’ve held off on buying a new LCD TV until the fall. Of course that’d have meant no TV or movie watching for three or so months so I suppose it works out in the wash.

If you’ve got any spare money this year, assuming you’re not in the same boat I am, then it’s going to be a great time to shop. If you’re a retailer, though, then things are going to be very rough.