NIE—Nov. 23-29, 2016—Economics

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This Week’s Anton Lesson Plan

Black Friday has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States since 1932 and falls on the day after Thanksgiving. While it is not an official holiday, many retailers take advantage of the fact that many customers have a four-day weekend. Businesses often make a point of offering deeply discounted promotional sales and opening earlier or overnight on that Friday or, even more controversially, on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Given the enormous economic influence this day has, students can do statistical research having to do with how profits have risen and fallen over the past 10 or 15 years, how the amount of shoppers have fluctuated during this time, total consumer spending, online versus brick-and-mortar spending and how various factors like the rise of the Internet, recession and boom times may have affected these numbers. Other related topics that can be further explored include the rise of offshoot retail phenomena including Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Other questions that can be asked include which companies make money despite the massive discounts they offer, what the most common products are that go on sale and which retailers experience the greatest amount of retail sales on that day. The trend of retailers opening on Thanksgiving has also offered up plenty of controversy and research can be done to find out which stores have taken a public stand to fly in the face of potential economic profit and refuse to open on Thanksgiving. The debate floor can then be opened up to students as to whether it is right or wrong for retailers to be open on this holiday and to provide factors to back up whatever side, pro or con, they may fall on.

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