This Thanksgiving we celebrate our national history, our cultural heritage and … great sales.
Whether you were born in this country or moved here from abroad, you probably like a good deal. Nothing symbolizes a bargain quite like Black Friday. Yet to me, it's the sale after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, that truly exemplifies our current national mindset.
As a third-generation American from a large Mexican working-class family, Black Friday has long been a familial bonding experience. But Cyber Monday has supplanted Black Friday in the Ramos family. This change mirrors a larger national trend in which demographics and technology are challenging retailers to shake up how they conduct their business.
Cyber Monday is big business. According to Forbes, consumers spent more than $1.4 billion on the internet holiday in 2012. That total is expected to grow to $1.8 billion this year. Last year alone, overall online retail sales increased to more than $1 trillion, and will grow an estimated 15 percent this year.
In the age of exploding online sales, Black Friday sticks out as an anachronism. Waking up early, waiting in the cold, mobbing your neighborhood Best Buy is the stuff of YouTube videos the past. Don’t get me wrong, we are still mobbing Best Buy, but more and more of us are doing it online.
Retailers have been in a hurry to catch up. Here's why:
To truly capitalize on this phenomenon, retailers have had to learn how this new diverse group connects to the world. Consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 spent more than seven percent more time on retail sites on Cyber Monday 2012, compared to 2011. And total visits to retail by Hispanic and Asian consumers jumped by double digits, according to Nielsen.
The new America is changing the way we buy things, for a microcosm of this phenomena look no further than my family.
Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner began at our kitchen table with two time-honored traditions. The first was a card game called Phase 10, which I hated because I always lost. The other was finding deals in the newspaper for Black Friday.
While my abuela still likes to scan newspaper clippings for Black Friday deals, my primos look for deals on their tablets to hone their Cyber Monday list.
Now, even my abuela is a Cyber Monday convert. She prefers the relative calm of online shopping to the mayhem of Black Friday. Thanks to Cyber Monday and tech-savvy family members, the store now comes to her.
Sadly, I’ll be away from my family on the West Coast for Thanksgiving. But just because I won’t be physically present doesn't mean I won’t be there. My brother has a smartphone with FaceTime and I am told there is now a Phase 10 app, so I can lose from 2,000 miles away.
Kristian Ramos is a public relations strategist living in Washington D.C. He's worked for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Kristian began his career at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), one of the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy groups in the country. He hails from the Southwest and wishes the District of Columbia had better Mexican food.