Black Friday enthusiasts and so-called journalists are buzzing about a list of Black Friday store hours that is being passed around and republished all over the internet. The problem is that despite being completely unsubstantiated, the list is being circulated as fact. We reported on the rumor a few weeks back, but never thought that so many people across the internet would fall for such an obvious fake. Cue facepalm.
How to spot a fake list of Black Friday store hours
Black Friday is big business, and there’s no way that any retailer with a marketing and public relations department worth its salt is going to release any piece of their strategy into the wild without a media blitz. Here’s why the store hours lists don’t pass the smell test:
No press releases from the retailers.
Every single move a retailer makes will be wrought in painstaking detail via press releases, complete with quotes from C-level executives and vice presidents of fancy department titles. Where are these press releases? They don’t exist. Believe me, if they did exist then we would have reported the news here immediately.
Black Friday hours have not been posted on retailers’ websites.
A second credible source of Black Friday store hours is the retailer’s website. None of the stores on the circulating list have posted their Black Friday hours on their sites.
No quotes from company representatives.
As a Black Friday news source, we jump at the chance to include quotes in our reporting. We’re not alone in this, so I’m fairly certain that if quotes existed then they would have been included in the articles.
A complete lack of source attribution.
No one reporting on Black Friday hours right now has named their sources. Saying you got it from this website or that one isn’t the same as naming your source. An ethical researcher will simply go to that website and quote them instead of you, because you always want to trace an assertion back to its original source. When you can’t trace it back to a company representative or official press release, it’s no better than an unsubstantiated rumor. In this case, the original source appears to be a post at the Examiner, which also doesn’t name any credible sources and in fact appears to be based on a misunderstanding that the list the author was looking at was actually from 2011.
Nothing has been published by any credible news source.
There’s a reason that major publications haven’t seized on the story. And don’t be fooled, if it were true then the story would be big. Very big. Partly because having so many retailers announce their hours so early in the season and with so little strategic maneuvering would be unprecedented, not to mention completely baffling.
Many won’t announce hours until their ad is released.
If last year’s news cycle was was any indication, several stores won’t announce their hours until their ad is officially released – which happens for most retailers sometime after the second week of November. We were often pulling store hours directly from the leaked Black Friday ads last year.
Why it makes no sense to announce Black Friday hours right now
I mentioned above that I would be completely baffled if any major retailers were to announce their Black Friday hours as early as September. At Black Friday by BradsDeals this isn’t our first rodeo. We know from experience that while retailers may have tentative plans to open at a certain time, most will refrain from making their final decisions until the last minute. Why is that? There are two major reasons for this.
There is no strategic marketing value to making an announcement in September.
As a marketer, you want to time your announcement so that it makes the biggest possible splash. That means you wait until anticipation for the news reaches a sort of critical mass. In September, most Black Friday shoppers have not even considered their Halloween costumes, let alone begun to map out their Black Friday plans. In short, very few people really care about Black Friday hours right now because it’s not the right season yet. A month from now it will be a different story.
Black Friday news is subject to competitive strategies.
Walmart watches Target closely. Target watches Walmart and Kohl’s. Best Buy watches Walmart. All of them are waiting to see what the others will do. As soon as one of them makes a formal announcement about store hours, the others will adjust their own plans to be competitive, and then they’ll announce their own store hours. If you’re looking for a real life example of this happening, one needs to look no further than Best Buy last year. Their original plans did not include opening at midnight, but they made a last minute decision to do it after so many of their top competitors did. The executive charged with handling the announcement made it clear that this was not what they had wanted to do, and that it pained the company to do it since it would cut into their employees’ time with their families on Thanksgiving, but they had to adjust to stay competitive. That last part is key, and demonstrates perfectly why announcing Black Friday hours in September and with so little fanfare doesn’t jive with the sort of high stakes chess match that we’ve historically seen.
How to spot real Black Friday news
Stick to Black Friday by BradsDeals for actual news.
We’re dedicated to reporting Black Friday news as it happens. We will post rumors, but we call them what they are. If a piece of info is unsubstantiated, we’ll be sure to tell you that. And there is no lazy journalism here.
Look for attribution.
Is the author quoting a company representative? Linking to a press release? Listing any sources at all? If not, then it’s not news – it’s merely speculation, rumor, or maybe even an urban legend.
Go back to the original source.
If the article quotes a website that’s not affiliated with the retailer, look for the story on that website instead. Does that story provide any attribution? Trace the news back as far as you can to an original source, and then evaluate that source instead of the summary of a summary of a summary.
Use common sense!
One of our arguments is that the timing and strategy doesn’t make any sense. Common sense alone is often enough to debunk bad journalism.
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About Rebecca Lehmann
As a data analyst and sometimes blog author, Rebecca helps the team keep an eye on Black Friday news and trends. Her favorite Black Friday purchase was a quilted down-filled winter coat.
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