Black Friday has long been a staple in the American retail industry, but as the sector shifts online, both companies and consumers are forced to adapt.
“I think many companies will start to reel back from Black Friday deals as a social responsibility move,” second-year fashion design student Emily Heckman said.
ModCloth, an exclusively online clothing store, completely shut down their website on Black Friday, but was back up on Saturday with the same kind of deals you would’ve seen on Friday, according to Heckman.
“The younger generation is starting to place more importance on authenticity and togetherness. Companies pick up on that and will respond around the holiday season,” Heckman said.
Earlier this year, commercial giant Walmart bought ModCloth. The acquisition was in an effort to keep pace with Amazon, who has emerged as the American consumerism frontrunner.
“While I’d like to think that smaller, independently owned businesses will drive the retail industry, I think Amazon will continue to lead,” Heckman said. “Amazon will soon be able to cater to the niche markets and be way more convenient than a smaller business.”
While Heckman believes Amazon will continue to dominate the market, she thinks younger consumers will hold stricter views when buying retail goods.
“Many people in the design world are starting to become concerned with the environmental and ethical impact of the clothing industry,” Heckman said. “Bigger companies such as H&M have picked up on this eco-concerned trend and have tried to up their factory and material standards. With the government not taking initiative, consumers will begin to expect companies to take that initiative.”
This year, the one-year annualized return on the S&P Retail Select Industry Index is down 10.93 percent.
“The retail industry is definitely going into a decline, in particularly, retail stores,” fifth-year international business and marketing student Nick Kallinicou said.
Kallinicou cited the access consumers have to online retail nowadays.
“You can have anything you would buy in a store shipped in sometimes as little as two days, aka Amazon, and usually with a free or small shipping fee,” Kallincou said.
Kallinicou works at the Urban Outfitters store on Ohio Avenue off campus. With the outliers being the holiday season and before school, he said it’s usually dead in the store.
“Our generation is deciding to spend our money more on experiences then consumer goods,” Kallincou said. “As psychology has proven, experiences rather than goods truly make a person happy.”
Kallinicou and Heckman both appear to be confident that younger consumers are a large variable in the fate on the industry. Whether companies play to that tune is up to them.
“I think Groupon and Airbnb could the market leaders in the future as they are already offering these types of experiences instead of goods,” Kallincou said. “I would not be surprised if Amazon followed in these companies’ footsteps.”