Busting Myths About Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Black Friday isn’t really the top holiday shopping day of the season–the last Saturday before Christmas is. Today, we have Cyber Monday, when turkey-bloated office workers purportedly return to work and spend the day looking for deals online. But is Cyber Monday really the biggest online shopping day of the year? Well, no. Focus put some numbers together to clear up misconceptions about Americans’ online holiday shopping patterns.

The terms “Green Monday” and “Brown Monday” may be unfamiliar. Green Monday refers to the first Monday in December, typically the busiest online shopping day of the year. Brown Monday is the following week, and refers to when retailers start dramatic markdowns in order to move holiday merchandise out the doors. This year, when inventories are lower, Brown Monday will be less dramatic than the past few years.

Shedding Light on Cyber Monday [Focus]


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  1. downturnliving says:

    Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Brown Tuesday…..who comes up with the color scheme? How ’bout Ecru Thursday, where no one uses a credit card, pays a finance fee or goes further into debt? Or would that be weird?

    • Awjvail says:

      Burnt Umber Thursday.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I don’t normally go in for hyperbole about the state of the world, but I was just teaching a World Religions class where we were talking about liturgical colors for different festivals and seasons of the year in Christianity, and I can’t help thinking all these color-named days relating to consumerism are, like, a quasi-religious liturgical calendar for shopping.

      But yeah, WTF is with the colors? Who picks them?

      • pharmacyfires says:

        Well, Black Friday is named such because that’s the day retailers head into the positive for the quarter or year or something.

    • Stickarm says:

      Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Brown Tuesday…..who comes up with the color scheme?”

      The names are silly. Cyber, however, isn’t a color. Just sayin’.

  2. inadequatewife says:

    I thought Brown Tuesday was when there are more “Brown” / UPS drivers on the road, tossing packages into snowbanks, leaving delivery slips that blow under bushes, etc…. Figured it was a result of Cyber Monday – deliveries showing up a week later… oh well, I was wrong!

  3. GC says:

    I still don’t think that Cyber Monday exists. I mean, people have the internet at home now, yeah?

    • tbax929 says:

      Agreed. I think Cyber Monday was more prevalent when fewer of us had internet access at home and, therefore, would shop online from the office the Monday after Black Friday for the stuff we weren’t able to get on Black Friday.

    • TailsToo says:

      The term “Cyber Monday” is a neologism invented by Shop.org, part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation. It’s a complete fake.

    • Zyada says:

      But shopping online would cut into important time shopping for Black Friday deals, watching football and those all too important Saturday afternoon naps!

      Besides, what are you going to do at Monday, work? ;-)

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I realize that I don’t pay attention to these kinds of things. I did half of my Christmas shopping today on Amazon because the prices were better or were comparable to other places. And because I had people of varying ages to shop for, it was easier to click around Amazon than to go to a mall (on the weekend, when everyone is at the mall) and go from store to store – if I want to compare prices, I can just do it on my computer, rather than go to a store and realize that I could get it $10 cheaper somewhere else.

    As it is, all of my packages will be here next week, and I’ll be halfway done with my shopping!

  5. SexCpotatoes says:

    Oh, and here I thought “Brown Monday” referred to a #3:

  6. SG-Cleve says:

    The rise of the Gift Card has turned conventional shopping wisdom on its ear. Stores no longer have to hold blowout sales right before Christmas to get rid of merchandise because they are going to be hit by a wave of shoppers the day after Christmas who want to spend their gift cards. They don’t need to run big sales after Christmas because the gift card holders are locked in to their store. It doesn’t matter what an XBox costs at Wal-Mart if you have a Best Buy gift card.

  7. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    Blue Wednesday, Yellow Thursday and Turquoise Sunday?

  8. carefreeamit says:

    Green Monday refers to the first Monday in December, typically the busiest online shopping day of the year.
    — That may be true but you don’t get such good deals all at once as BF.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    Good gods, and I thought Bush’s Terror Color Alerts were nonsensical, hype-filled and ultimately useless.

  10. Zyada says:

    “Black Friday isn’t really the top holiday shopping day of the season–the last Saturday before Christmas is”

    The snopes article and this statement really annoy the %$@ out of me. First is the definition of “busiest” as “most dollars spent”. Sure it’s easy to measure, but dollars spent has nothing to do with how busy a retail store is – by this definition, most car dealers are swamped and Wal-mart is an echo chamber. The practice of many retailers of setting up the best deals on Black Friday just skews the relationship between customer activity and dollars spent even more than usual. Reality is that many people are shopping the stores looking to decide what to buy for each givee as much as looking for good prices, while those that are there for the deals are often out of there once they get what they want OR find out what they were there for is gone.

    The day before Christmas, OTOH, is the day when just about anyone who is walking into a store is going to walk out with something because they put off shopping till the last minute, or found out that a gift was missing, or couldn’t find the one thing they wanted/had to get and needed a substitute.

    Black Friday was named originally by the employees who had to work during it, and so named because it was the worst day of the year to work retail. Then the upper management types figured it out and started looking at Friday sales to determine how well the rest of the season was going. Then other people in management decided to run sales on that day to make sure the BF numbers looked good. Here I am, rolling my eyes.

    In the end, saying that Black Friday isn’t the busiest day because it doesn’t have the highest dollar sales is just another way of ignoring people in favor of money.

    • Stephen Colon says:

      Thank you! I could smell the fallacies a mile away, but wasn’t quite sure where they were…

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I thought Black Friday was traditionally the day that retailers went into the black for the year.

    • Trae says:

      1. Black Friday was so named because it’s the day of the year most stores end up “in the Black,” or turn a profit on their fiscal year.

      2. Have you ever been in a store on Black Friday at 5pm? It’s a ghost town. Black Friday has the busiest five to seven hours of the year, but the latter half of the day is pretty dead from my experiences working retail. The last Saturday before Christmas on the other hand is solidly busy ALL DAY.

    • loobis says:

      I’m not sure I get your logic. I’ve shopped early in the morning (6am) on Black Friday, and it’s crazy, but it dies down after 9am. There are multiple times I’ve walked in at 10am and got exactly what I needed because it wasn’t a “doorbuster” and was out in 5 minutes. I went to Best Buy at 5pm this past Friday, and it wasn’t any busier than a normal Friday. The Saturday before Christmas, though, I won’t even go anymore. I would call that busier in terms of number of customers and sales.
      Also, is anyone actually just trying to decide what to buy on Black Friday? I think 95% of the people know exactly what they’re after and are out as quick as possible. There’s not much browsing.

  11. StanTheManDean says:

    I thought Brown Days refered to UPS Driver Dreading Days.

    Per my fav UPS Driver:

    Monday is Hell…. for Pickups. All the crap ordered this weekend
    Tuesday is Hell’s Twin Sister …. for pickups ordered on Monday (when office workers return to work and waste their employers valuable time by shopping online for crap which is then shipped on Tuesday).

    Thursday & Friday ….. Hello Overtime. Trucks are maxed out delivering the crap shipped on Monday & Tuesday.

    Max Overtime Days: Starting the Monday, two weeks before Xmas. The guarantees are off (except next-day air). Nothing has to be delivered on time and you get paid OVERTIME for every screw up you can possibly accomplished. Added Bonus, you get part-time help for your truck. You can make the PTer do all the work while you watch.

    PS; NO, I don’t work for UPS or FedEx.

    PSS; My fav driver is retired.

  12. cerbie_the_orphan says:

    I have to wonder: if an industry has to focus so much on a small handful of near, but not consecutive days, isn’t their whole business model kind of broken?

    Today was the day to recover from the glut of yesterday, not to shop.

    On top of that, the few decent deals were of the variety.

  13. Winteridge2 says:

    I hung around in a checkout line for 3 hours, just having fun, but by the time I got to the register, my credit card had expired. Someone behind me bought all my treasures, and I went home to bed for another year. Some fun!

  14. PsiCop says:

    The concentration on certain “key” days on the calendar … whether it’s “Black Friday” or “Green Monday” or whatever … is really just a kind of “magic bullet” thinking. “If we just do well on Black Friday, we’ll be fine!” retailers may be telling themselves. While it all fits into the mass media tropes that generate stories about “Black Friday,” etc., it’s downright foolish for stores to obsess on these and other “key dates” at the risk of all other considerations.

    The media really need to calm down about this stuff. The problem isn’t just that the importance of these dates is mythically inflated, it’s that they’ve created a kind of perverse “commercial-media complex” where it’s concerned. Stores have to talk about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, et al because the media expect it; the media dutifully report on it all — and it doesn’t hurt that it happens to be an easy story to report, just show up at the nearest mall and chat with people and wham! story’s done! — then the stores see all the reporting on the matter, which means next year they have to be doubly prepared for it; and on it goes in a vicious cycle.

    We need to get off this merry-go-round, and fast, before any more Jdymitai Damours have to pay for it with their lives. Enough already.

  15. saltyoak says:

    wow…just wow

    PURE evil, slaves at that. Pretty sure there is a lot of credit cards used as well. I was hoping this was the year we did not feel compelled to show up.

    If you are one in a million, then there 300 just like you, real close by. Think, people, they are us.

  16. CTAUGUST says:

    “I still don’t think that Cyber Monday exists”. I agree. The company I work for has hundreds of employees and I have seen the internet reports, there is no more online shopping going on this day than any other. This myth was created by online retailers so they could have a day of their own to promote.

    That said, I have NEVER shopped on Black Friday. I had one really great deal I wanted to take advantage of on PC for myself and was able to snag the same deal at Bestbuy.com Friday morning without having to get into my car. I can’t imagine what deals are so great you need to be out at 4-5am to get them. My sleep and sanity is worth more to me.

  17. Winteridge2 says:

    Has anyone researched how these color/days relate to GW Bush’s terror alert colors? I suspect a connection…

  18. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This is supremely helpful and I’m glad I waited to make purchases.