Everything’s on Sale But Is Anyone Buying

Photo by Michael Competielle

My email feed is full of crap emails. Black Friday sales, pre-Black Friday sales, post-Black Friday Sales, Black Friday week. Cyber Monday, Donation Tuesday. But today, today is fuck you Wednesday. 

If you bought into the hype, maxed out your credit cards to buy more junk that nobody actually needs to help fulfill your life of nothingness, today is your day. Give the shit back. 


According to early statistics brick and mortar, Black Friday sales were up 6.2% from 2018 while internet sales surged to $7.4 billion on Friday up $1.2 billion from 2018. Seems like things are just rosy. 

As a matter of fact, retail has been on an upswing with an average 4% annual growth since 2010. And this year is positioned to be another winner with anticipated holiday shopping forecast to hit $1 trillion. People are buying more online and more importantly from their mobile devices with a Black Friday mobile purchase increase of 35%. We are talking 61% of purchases were from mobile devices. The largest mobile device purchase day ever. 


Brick and mortar sales weren’t quite as lucrative however a big selling factor was the ability to purchase online while you can pick up in the store. Sort of the best of both worlds as you have the ability to research your products and find the best deals and not wait or pay for shipping. 

What does all this mean? Online marketing is working. As we have firmly learned how to market to the masses and pump up sales it appears the trajectory is positive. 


With this increase in sales, we should all be happy as we skip down the pathway of life. But are the retailers actually making a profit? I’m unsure how to write the sound of a vinyl record grinding to a halt as someone is screaming “stop the damn Holiday music” vvvvrrrerrfffff. 

“Profits? Did someday say profits?” I say in my best Mayor Augustus Whoville’s voice. “Profits, we don’t discuss profits at Christmas” 

Why not? Because we are in what is being called the Retail Vortex. Market analysis shows that the added cost of online marketing, logistics costs, and deep discounts are thinning profits. And more importantly, we haven’t discussed the dirty little word…. Returns. No returns on investment but the massive onslaught of returns that retailers absorb in this market where consumers feel returning or exchanging gifts is okay.

This holiday season 77% of consumers plan to return some gifts and purchases while 20% are expected to return more than half. Consumers are shopping looking for deals and making purchases with confidence that retailers will accept returns. As retailers are battling to discount pricing, offer free shipping and often free returns, brick and mortar sales aren’t the only retailers suffering. 

With limited consumer commitment in keeping purchases, retail sales and Black Friday/ Cyber Monday statistics are artificially reported. With many product return policies accepting returns into the New Year it’s possible the losses will be carried over.

The best advice is to spend time with friends and family and only make wise informed purchases. Make art, make music or make love, just don’t buy into the hype.

Author: mtcwriter

Michael Competielle is a Creative Designer specializing in Sound, Brand and Experiential Design.

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