Every year, tens of thousands of people search websites like BlackFriday.org for those classic Black Friday deals that keep us shopping year after year. As a former business advisor who specialized in the retail market, I am often asked about Black Friday ads. One popular questions is about when Black Friday ads leak online.
Traditionally, the first Black Friday ads that you will see leak online will appear around the end of September. Most retail companies will print their Black Friday ads months in advance. They will usually be under lock and key until a few months before Black Friday. Once that lockdown is over, the ads will make their way into the hands of some of the middle management. Traditionally, this is the level in which will leak the earliest of the Black Friday ads.
Expect to see about 15-20% of the Black Friday ads to leak in October. At this point, more companies are filtering their ads around to middle management, and some will let the regular workers see them. The more hands that are on the Black Friday ads, the higher the chance that the ad will be leaked online.
The bulk of the Black Friday ads will leak during the first two weeks of November. At this point, the corporate offices are shipping all of the Black Friday ads to the stores so that the workers can familiarize themselves with them. Some companies will even start allowing the customers to take an early look at the Black Friday ads during the second week of November. Again, the more hands that are on an ad, the higher the chance of it being leaked.
You will usually find that some of the largest companies are keeping a better wrap on their Black Friday ads than their competition. Wal-Mart, Target, and Macy’s often will not have their Black Friday ads leaked until a week or two before the holiday. This is because of the fact that they are keeping their ads closer until the last possible moment.
What I think is humorous about the companies that worry about their Black Friday ad leaking is that with the size of most companies, and the amount of time that most companies need to place big orders, there should be little concern about someone undermining your pricing. The larger the retail company, the slower it is going to move. It is not like the old days in which you had to keep everything a secret because the competition could move as fact (if not faster) than you.