Did Apple get it right by skipping Black Friday deals?
Apple Stores surprised many by not holding any Black Friday deals. Instead, the doorbusters for Apple’s lineup of products took place at third-party sellers.
Apple Stores’ Black Friday deals have always drawn attention since traditionally Apple products have rarely been discounted. Some felt Apple Stores began downplaying Black Friday in 2014 by offering iTunes gift cards with any purchase instead of discounts.
In an interview at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival on Nov. 9, Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s SVP of retail and online stores, said Apple had backed away from Black Friday sales in 2014 for the sake of employees. She said, "Being good to your employees will always be good for business."
Why they decided to forego any specials or extend hours for Black Friday 2015 wasn’t clear. Writing for The Verge, Ross Miller suspected it might be because Black Friday has become less of a major selling day.
But many felt that Apple Stores were being positioned more as showrooms than in the past.
"Apple’s vision for its retail stores is for them to be calm and peaceful places," wrote Ben Lovejoy for 9to5Mac. "The reality in the bigger Apple Stores at peak times is very far removed from this — packed with so many people you can scarcely move, let alone get a decent chunk of time to play with a product or have a relaxed conversation with a member of staff."
He also felt the move pushed more sales online as part of an overall emphasis to merge online and offline channels.
The shift also means more Apple products, once sold primarily at Apple Stores, are increasingly sold at third-party retailers with doorbuster deals featured at Best Buy, Staples, Target, Walmart and others.
Moreover, Apple appears more open to allowing discounting and other incentives to drive sales. On Black Friday, Target offered gift cards up to $150 with the purchase of an iPad Air or Air 2 and Best Buy discounted the iPad Air 2 64GB by $100.
Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC that Apple’s greater involvement in doorbusters is helping its branding.
"If you just look at Target and Best Buy as two examples, and use them as a barometer, the fact is, they’re really embracing these doorbusters as a sign that demand is pretty healthy here," Mr. Munster said. "So, so far, so good."
- Is Apple killing Black Friday or just outsourcing it to its retail partners? – 9to5Mac
- 2015 Apple Store Black Friday Ad Goes Live? Shoppers Head To Best Buy, Target For Better Deals – Starpulse.com
- How Apple’s winning Black Friday – at full price – 9to5Mac
- Apple Black Friday Gameplan – knock out holiday shopping quickly, save tons of cash – 9to5Mac
- Apple’s Black Friday deals go live with up to $100 of iTunes credit – The Verge
- Even Apple seems to be skipping Black Friday this year – The Verge
- Target Reports Strong Start to Black Friday Weekend Online and In Stores – Target
- Apple’s Angela Ahrendts talks her relationship w/ retail employees, Black Friday, & more – 9to5Mac
What do you think of Apple’s decision to tone down discounts in its retail stores over the Black Friday weekend while allowing more discounting at third-party sellers? Do you agree that Apple Stores are being used more as showrooms at this point?