James Poulos celebrates Wal-Mart’s decision to spread its Black Friday promotions over five days:
Walmart is actually defying the logic embraced so grimly by Sears, Kmart, and millions of citizen-shoppers. Rather than chumming the aisles for the mother of all feeding frenzies, Walmart is breaking up Black Friday – “trying to cater to the changing tastes of shoppers who no longer find it appealing to camp out in the middle of the night in hopes of snagging a steal,” as The Wall Street Journal reports. Top U.S. merchant Duncan Mac Naughton explained that “people” – yes, even the uncouth and uncool – “want to shop on their own schedules,” not “set times prescribed by the retailers.” Fewer and fewer of them, says Mac Naughton, are caught roaming the store “in the middle of the night.” We should all give thanks that Walmart, so readily and reasonably caricatured as the spawn of Satan incarnate, should use its inexorable powers to shunt critics of every stripe out of their well-worn ruts.
But Barry Ritholtz sees business as usual for Wal-Mart and the other big retailers: