"I think the traditionalists will have a hard time stomaching that," Josh Elman, a consumer and retail analyst with Nasdaq Advisory Services, told Business Insider. "But I think at the end of the day ... the whole idea and concept of Black Friday deals in store will diminish over time."
He continued: "Ultimately, consumers really want convenience and they want to get their item and get out of the store quickly. They don't want to wait in long lines, they don't want to wait for a store to open anymore."
According to National Retail Federation data, 99 million people said they shopped in stores on Thanksgiving weekend last year — a drop of three million from the year before. According to Elman, the number of people hustling to the stores for deals is only going to fall further this year.
Meanwhile, 108 million people shopped online on Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 — a five million increase from the year before.
Beyond the shift to e-commerce over in-store purchases, Elman says that people are getting used to deals all year round. Retailers have trained shoppers to only buy items on sale, according to experts.
In other words, there's no longer a single day — the day after Thanksgiving, or November 24 this year — that retailers all offer incredible deals. These deals are spread out throughout the holiday season and the rest of the year. And, they now appear both online and in stores.
"The whole idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ... is becoming less relevant as the consumer is generally accustomed to great deals, or at least getting a deal," Elman said. "While it still is very important in the grand scheme of things, I do think retailers have been adjusting."
Black Friday still helps to officially kick off a crucial period for retailers. But, Elman says, the holiday season start date is inching earlier and earlier, as companies desperate to survive the "retail apocalypse" look for an edge.
Things like offering Black Friday-esque sales before Thanksgiving can help retailers boost business compared to rivals. But, it also dilutes the importance of Black Friday as a single day for destination shopping.
"It's a little sad. But it's just a sign of the times," Elman said. "It's really the paradigm shift that's occurring. I think retailers understand what's transpiring, and ultimately are doing everything in their power to meet customers' needs."
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