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Black Friday this year, like so much of 2020, looks very different from years past. With much of the U.S. locking down again, people aren’t going to be crowding into stores to grab once-in-a-year deals — and that’s a huge loss for most of us as retailers, in more ways than you might realize.

Turning Black Friday deals into a monthlong sale can fill the price/value equation gap, but it doesn’t do anything to replace the Black Friday experience.

We all crave familiar rituals, particularly rituals we associate with a happy childhood — and this year has taken so many of them away from us. The crowds, the energy and the excitement of Black Friday are something many people will sorely miss this year.

Because for a while now, Black Friday has been part of a familiar ritual. The whole family got together for Thanksgiving, we ate too much, grandpa fell asleep on the couch — and then we all woke up on Friday morning, bundled up, and went to see Santa and go shopping. We did that to be part of the energy and the crowd, to be part of the experience — and to do some Christmas/holiday shopping and find some great deals at the same time.

Black Friday meant the beginning of the Christmas/holiday season in a real and tangible way for the whole family. For kids in particular, that’s been key to building positive memories they’ll associate with the retail experience for the rest of their lives.

And those memories are crucial for the future of retail.

Think about it: when was the last time your kids asked you to go shopping? For most of today’s children, going shopping means reaching for their phone. It doesn’t even occur to many of them to see shopping as a physical activity — and as a retailer with a physical space, that should concern you.

When we work with clients, we stress the importance of activating and inspiring children’s imaginations

— leveraging things like the conductive paint wall we designed for LEGO Dimensions, or the gesture-activated dress-up game we built for C&A. Experiences like that can make it easier for parents to get some shopping done, but they’re also an investment in your future as a retailer.

So you may not be able to immerse your customers in the full Black Friday experience this year — but going forward, that’s all the more reason to use digital technology in your physical space to create memorable, exciting, and fun experiences for the whole family.