From the piece:
So if the whole thing is economically irrelevant, why does the media (this newspaper included) make such a big deal out of Black Friday, Black Thursday, Cyber Monday, or whatever other new terms of art the retail industry marketeers have come up with lately? It is a case study in the interaction of parties with skewed incentives.
Retailers know that a typical family spends whatever it will spend on holiday gift-giving, and that whether that spending comes on Nov. 23 or Dec. 23 doesn’t make that much difference in the aggregate. But retailers aren’t a monolith; they are all chasing market share from the others. And the minute one retailer discovers that opening at midnight on Thanksgiving will attract a mob of people, cash in hand, others are reluctant to cede those sales to the guy down the block. Thus, an opening-time arms race that resulted in this year’s prevalence of stores opening at 8:00p.m. on Thanksgiving.
For the media, it is a ready-made story.