What is Black Friday and What Can Shoppers Expect?

Monday, November 21st, 2016

If you’re busy thinking about your Christmas list of things to buy, you’re probably equally focused on Black Friday, a day when department stores and independent retailers slash their prices in a bid to drum up a selling frenzy. But how and why did Black Friday start? This year Black Friday falls on Friday 25th November, read on to find out more…

black friday image

Like our love for Halloween and McDonald’s we took the Black Friday buying frenzy from our friends across the pond. Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in America, and falls anywhere between November 23 and 29 each year. There are many suggestions for the origins of the term Black Friday, according to history.com it is likely that the name was given by the Philadelphia police back in the 1950s to describe the chaos caused on the day after thanksgiving, when droves of shoppers and tourists flooded the city ready for the big Army-Navy football game held every year. The police were forced to work long shifts, not only dealing with crowds and traffic but also shoplifters who would take advantage of the bedlam in stores. Frequently the day would be marked by traffic accidents and even violence.

With their target audience arriving en masse, retailers offered discount prices to entice the crowds to the shops, making Black Friday the day to kick-off the Christmas shopping season. But, with such a negative association, retailers preferred to reinstate Black Friday as the day the stores accounting would move from the “red” and into the “black.” However, Black Friday hasn’t lost its chaotic and violent beginnings. Walmart offers such jaw-dropping discounts that in the past it has been the site of pepper spray attacks, stabbings and shootings. In 2012 two people were shot outside a Walmart in Tallahassee Florida fighting over a parking space. In 2011 a California woman was accused of dousing a waiting crowd with pepper spray while she took off with a 60% discounted Xbox. In 2014 a 34-year-old security worker at the retail giant was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers! (thebalance.com)

How did it reach us in the UK?

Jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon began in the UK when the online retail giant Amazon brought its US Black Friday deals to its UK site with huge success, after all who doesn’t like a bargain before Christmas rather than wincing at the discounts in the January sales?! In a bid to compete PC World and Curry’s followed suit in 2012, along with Walmart owned Asda, Black Friday gained full pace in 2013 and is now the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK.

So has it caught on?

Yes and no, in the UK Black Friday has certainly gained pace. Retailers now email out to their subscribers days or weeks before the event, some even offering a full “Black Friday Weekend” of discounts to entice buyers into the shops at the weekend not just relying on online purchasers. But Europe however hasn’t quite fallen for the new Goliath in retail discount days, Kantar Retail estimates that 60 per cent of French people still don’t know what Black Friday is.

What to look out for?

According to the Telegraph expect the usual big discounts on technology and electrical products. Keep an eye on Curry’s if you’re in the market for a new TV. If you don’t mind an older model, expect to scoop these up at a discount as retailers make room on the shelves for new models hitting the market for Christmas. Experts also think that clothing retailers will want their slice of the spending spree, so clothing discounts could be the one to watch out for this Black Friday 2016.


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