Black Friday proves some future for big retail

To read business news, one would think that the shopping mall is on the verge of horse-and-buggy relevance. Young people, and even may older people, shop only online. There are better bargains online. Online shopping is more convenient. The brick and mortar store is passe, old school, offering limited selection, high prices and questionable customer service.

So say the mall doomsayers.

Do you imagine there are many of these doomsayers around malls and downtown shopping districts today, on Black Friday 2017?

Packed shopping centers today are proof that while malls might face challenges, there is and will remain a place for in-person retail. You think not? Then run into Walmart today for a couple of items. Tell your family you will be a couple of hours.

Many of us decry the commercialization of this week, and it’s a fair perspective. Being thankful for what one has on one day, and then coping with Black Friday crowds the next doesn’t seem consistent. It makes many uncomfortable. On the other hand, Black Friday bargains also give people the purchasing power they don’t have other days and it doesn’t seem quite ethical to denounce that. After all, capitalism is as American as apple pie.

Malls of the future will be different. Already, forward-thinking developers are re-envisioning malls as residential- entertainment-lifestyle centers that just happen to include necessary retail. It’s a brilliant vision that embraces past and present, older generation needs and newer generation wants.

Regardless of this interesting vision of the future, Black Friday – however we feel about it personally – demonstrates that there will always be a place for in-person shopping. Some people want to see and feel a product before they buy it. For some people, a stock description of a product isn’t enough. Some people will never quite trust the security of online shopping.

For good or for bad, Black Friday isn’t going away soon. Nor is first-person retail. Perhaps this like all things will pass. It just isn’t going to be tomorrow.