Is Thanksgivukkah Going to Make Black Friday all Meshuggener for Retailers?

By Marni Manko

October 4, 2013

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Nothing gets me excited about the holidays as much as my family's annual, hugely indulgent Thanksgiving meal, followed by our Black Friday, pre-dawn pilgrimage to the mall. It’s the perfect blend of two of my favorite things—genuinely meaningful time with the people I love and totally indulgent retail therapy.

So when I first heard that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah are falling on the same day this year—a once-in-a-lifetime event that's earned the meme Thanksgivukkah—I initially thought that the convergence of two of my favorite holidays was akin to nabbing the ultimate Black Friday score.

And then it hit me. This little turn of events actually isn’t such a good thing. The reality is, I now have to get my Hanukkah shopping done well before that first bite of turkey meets my mouth. Depriving the kids of the week-long, pre-Hanukkah anticipation of seeing blue and white presents piled high isn’t really an option—and so it seems that this year, neither is me snagging some great Black Friday deals in time for lighting the first candle.

And that begs the question that retailers can’t ignore. Will they stick to the standard Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday deluge of sales, or will they adapt and start offering up some Black Friday-esque deals well before Turkey Day in hopes of capitalizing on the Hanukkah shoppers? And if they do stick to the standard Thanksgiving to Christmas shopping period, how will it affect their overall bottom line?

While the Jewish population is rather small (about 2% of the US population, or 6.7 million people), 46% of Jews reportedly have household incomes of over $100,000. Compare that to just 18% of the general population who makes $100k+, and it’s clear that Hanukkah shoppers have some real ability to move the retail needle. This is especially relevant in some major metro areas in New York, California, and Florida, where Jews can comprise 20% of the countywide population.

Extending the holiday shopping season to pre-Thanksgiving to accommodate Hanukkah shoppers can also give retailers a perfect non-eye-rolling excuse to tack on more days to the shopping season. Thanksgiving falls late this year on November 28, giving retailers only 27 days (and 4 weekends as opposed to the usual 5) to push their holiday wares before Christmas Day. A shorter holiday retail season can presumably equate to less profits. Starting the sales the week before Thanksgiving Day can add some of those precious days back to this crucial retail period.

Time will only tell if Thanksgivukkah will prove to be a boon or a loss for retailers (we'll be sure to give you all the numbers in our next Ecommerce Quarterly). And since it won’t happen again for another 70,000 years, this is a once-in-a-lifetime conundrum (although there will be overlap of the holidays again in 2070). But it is something that retailers really shouldn’t ignore, lest they lose out on making the most of the Festival of Lights.

In the meantime, I’m off to buy the must-have accessory of the season.

Menurkey image courtesy of Anthony Weintraub.

Marni Manko is Monetate's former director of content marketing. After spending years as a fashion & lifestyle editor writing for publishers like Condé Nast and Niche Media, she was online editor for Comcast Interactive Media, and lead writer on ING DIRECT’s brand strategy team, where she headed up its award-winning blog.

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