NEW YORK – Many of America’s largest retailers, including Macy’s and Kohl’s, are foregoing their traditional “Black Friday” sales promotions and beginning their holiday shopping seasons on Thanksgiving this year, according to industry analysts. On Wednesday, several CEOs explained that the change in tact is meant to stay competitive in an increasingly-cutthroat marketplace, and also to clarify that their sales are “meant for people of all colors, not just blacks.”
“It’s just the right move in this environment,” said JC Penny CEO Myron E. Ullman. “Increasingly, consumers are deciding to stay at home rather than shop on Black Friday, and we assume that’s largely because they think only black people are welcome in our stores that day.”
“Let me be clear: If you’re white, red, yellow—whatever—you’re always welcome in JC Penny,” Ullman added. “We’re not Barney’s for chrissakes.”
“Black Friday”—traditionally the day after Thanksgiving—is so named because retailers hoped that promotions offered that day would bring their balance sheets out of the red and into the black; but according to Macy’s CEO Terry J. Lundgren, many consumers have become confused about the term. Some believe it refers to the often-overwhelming crowds that fill stores on Black Friday, while others believe that retailers offer race-specific promotions on that day.
“We’ve had a lot of people call us up and accuse us of being racists,” Lundgren said. “Which is totally untrue. We thought about introducing White Wednesday and Mexican Monday to balance things out, but we figured it would just be easier to do away with Black Friday altogether.”
The wane of Black Friday has presented an opportunity for some retailers, however, who have decided to double-down their efforts. This year, Old Navy will give $1 million to “one lucky Black Friday shopper,” and, according to Glenn K. Murphy, CEO of parent company Gap Inc., the giveaway is really meant for African Americans, even if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids them from enforcing such a restriction.
“We’re going to be really disappointed if some white dude wins the million,” Murphy said. “White people pretty much dominate every other day of the year—can’t we save this one for black people?”