Was Black Friday 2015 a Complete Bust for Retailers?

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Each November, retailers prepare for the rush of holiday shoppers, with Black Friday bargains being the starting line to the holiday shopping season, and 2015 wasn’t any different. Retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart released their Black Friday deals ahead of time, with hopes of drawing lines of people who would need to be barricaded outside of the store before the mad rush.

But was it all for nothing?Black Friday shopping

According to Reuters, early data shows that Black Friday shopping numbers came up short for a lot of major stores, including Best Buy and Walmart, while Target did see an increase due to its marketing and promotion efforts.

The general consensus is that stores and malls were less crowded than in years past.

Part of the reason for this is because some stores opened earlier than ever before this year—Target opened its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day while Best Buy started at 5 p.m. Because of that, many shoppers were able to secure all of their bargains before the clock even struck midnight. Now, we can debate all day about if its right to take employees away from their families on Thanksgiving to work a retail job, but the fact of the matter is that many big box retailers took value away from Black Friday by starting their deals early.

It should be noted that this year’s holiday shopping numbers are following the same trend as 2014, with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend starting off slow before seeing a surge in the final ten days of December, according to Reuters.

Dangers of Black Friday Shopping

Another reason for the decline in retail store’s traffic could be due to the dangers of Black Friday shopping, and 2015 wasn’t any different than previous years. If you’ve ever seen the movie Jingle All The Way, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, check out this video by Twitter user yung wifi showing a brawl at Mall St. Matthews in Louisville, KY on Thanksgiving.

This New York Daily News article highlights only a small percentage of fights recorded during Black Friday shopping.

Online Sales Up

The biggest reason for the decrease in foot traffic? Online sales.

U.S. shoppers spent $ 822 million in online shopping between midnight and 11 a.m. EST this year, which was a 15% increase from last year but still a lower mark than the originally-projected 19% growth mark, according to the Adobe Digital Index, which tracked 180 million visits to more than 4,500 U.S. retail websites. Online sales did rise 22% from midnight to 5 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving, which may show that launching online deals before Black Friday could be the right strategy moving forward. 

For what it’s worth, there were some great Black Friday deals this year:

  • $ 700 off a 60-inch Samsung TV at Best Buy
  • 20% off a $ 75 purchase at Target
  • $ 100 gift card with the purchase of an Apple Watch at Target
  • $ 100 off an iPad Air 2 at Walmart
  • $ 49.99 for a Kindle on Amazon.com

Overall, the National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales to increase 3.7% in 2015, which would be lower than last year’s 4.1% growth rate, largely due to dormant wages and slow job growth in the U.S. this year.

One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that online shopping will continue to dominate the Black Friday landscape, and Cyber Monday will continue to drive more revenue for eCommerce brands and online retailers.

Images via Shutterstock

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Using Peshmerga to Destroy the Islamic State isn’t Isolationism. It Makes Complete Sense.

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Conservatives already have to deal with great ideas getting shot down by liberals. That’s expected. What’s infuriating is when great ideas are shot down by Republicans. Peshmerga has been and will continue to be the best way to eliminate the Islamic State.

For those not familiar, here are the bullet points to know about them:

  • Peshmerga is the 200,000 troop Kurdish army that has been fighting the Islamic State from the beginning.
  • They were our best allies in the Iraq war and were instrumental in taking Baghdad with minimal US casualties.
  • They aren’t jihadists. They aren’t anti-American or anti-Israel. When the phrase “moderate Islam” is used, these are the guys that best exemplify the concept. They just want to live in peace.
  • Unlike the Syrian rebels, they do not have any other motivation beyond destroying the Islamic State.

Many of the Republican candidates for President are taking the gut-wrenching attacks last week in Paris and utilizing it to flex their muscles and call for American boots on the ground. This is ludicrous for several reasons, but the most important thing that every American should know is that the fastest, most efficient, and easiest to implement action that we could possibly take to destroy the Islamic State is by completely and unequivocally supporting Peshmerga.

That means training, which they don’t need a ton of as they’re already pretty well trained.

That means arms, which they already possess to some extent. They have tanks and decent weapons, just not enough. Everyone from the United States to Russia has been trying to get them a limited number of weapons, but not enough are coming in and many are being halted in Baghdad for defense without ever making it out to the battlefield.

Most importantly, that means air support. Lots of it. The Islamic State has very little in the way of air defense, so a well-trained, well-equipped Peshmerga with massive American air support would end the threat very quickly. Since they’re already embedded in these lands, it would actually bring about the end of the Islamic State more quickly than to build a military infrastructure from scratch.

In other words, helping the Kurds wouldn’t just keep many American boots off the ground. It would actually be more effective and efficient than attempting to send in our own military to defeat them.

Some would wonder why we wouldn’t be doing it already if it would be so effective. The reason is because of a poor choice by the Obama administration. They saw the Syrian rebels as a better team to support because they underestimated the Islamic State and because they wanted to kill two birds with one stone. Peshmerga will not take out Bashar al-Assad and install a new Syrian government. The President hoped that the Syrian rebels would.

By choosing the Syrian rebels over Peshmerga, we have actually helped the Islamic State to expand. The rebels have no loyalty to America and very little loyalty to Syria itself. Many are leaving the rebels to join the Islamic State because they feel they have a better chance of taking out Assad than the ragtag group of al Qaeda led rebels. They have taken the training and weapons that the Obama administration supplied them and given them over to the Islamic State.

With Peshmerga, there is zero chance of that happening. They are adamantly dedicated to protecting their lands and their family from the existential threat that the Islamic State poses for them. They don’t view the Islamic State as a possibly obstacle, possible ally against Assad the way the Syrian rebels do. They want to destroy the Islamic State at all costs. Arming, training, and supporting them makes by far the most sense as a way to eliminate the ISIS threat.

The problem is that Americans have been left in the dark about the circumstances in the Middle East. Most know that the Obama administration has “cooked the books” to make things seem better than they really are against the Islamic State, but what doesn’t get reported is that the Peshmerga have had the only documented successes against them. The reason: it doesn’t fit the narrative the administration uses to arm the Syrian rebels.

Rather than bring this truth to light, most of the Republican candidates have chosen to highlight this plan or that plan in an effort to make themselves appear more hawkish (and therefore stronger) in the eyes of conservative voters. It’s more infuriating than what the President is doing because the Republican candidates shouldn’t be using “boots on the ground” as a political power play. Instead, they should be taking the best option available, the option that makes total sense on all fronts, in order to destroy the Islamic State.  That best option is complete support of Peshmerga. Unfortunately, wanting to do so doesn’t get the types of headlines they need to capture the attention of voters.

It’s the right choice for America. It’s just not the right choice for their campaigns. When I hear candidates like Marco Rubio calling the idea isolationism, I realize how perverted his views on foreign relations really are. America needs to be strong around the world. That doesn’t mean we need to flex our muscle when it’s not necessary. The best way to stop the Islamic State is through the Peshmerga army. That’s not isolationism. That’s not Rand Paul style Libertarianism. It’s called being smart and doing this the right way even if it doesn’t score political points with the under-informed voters.

It’s politically expedient for some Republican candidates to call for boots on the ground and there are times to do so. This is not one of them as Ted Cruz has rightly affirmed. We have a better option that is begging for help to destroy the Islamic State. That is the right way to do it even if it doesn’t score points for a candidate.

Peshmerga Army

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