It is Thanksgiving week, and for many that means another Black Friday shopping experience. I must say, there’s really nothing quite like hitting the 1:30 a.m. sales after a long day of turkey and pumpkin pie. Whether you view that as enjoyable, or quite the opposite, there’s reason to expect this tradition is changing. There are growing supply and demand-side reasons why much of the Black Friday bacchanalia will be very different in the years to come.

Across much of the country, labor markets are tighter now than they’ve been in two decades. Especially here in the Midwest, many employers are feeling their first really tight labor market since the 1990s. The most difficult jobs to fill are always at the bottom of the pay scale, and that often means retail establishments. That’s the risk to the traditional Black Friday we’ve come to know.

Michael J. Hicks, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. Contact him at

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