For those of you who live outside of the United States, this is the biggest shopping day of the year. It somehow took on a life of its own.
Black Friday in the United States is the day after Thanksgiving, which is always a Thursday. It has always been the traditional beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Recently coined as such in 1966, Black Friday is often called the busiest day of retail sales in the entire year for most retailers. According to Reuters, over 135 million people participate in Black Friday in some capacity. Usage of the term was unceremoniously borne of the East Coast, rather than the Left Coast.
For those of you outside of the United States, Black Friday is NOT an official holiday, but might as well be. Many workers have this day off, as part of a four day Thanksgiving weekend. Those who do not have the day off either call in sick or trade their shift to a less senior staff member. When the normal time to open for business is 9 or 10am, Black Friday has stores opening at 5am, for an “early bird gets the worm” head start on its competitors. This usually takes the form of a limited number of loss leaders. Let’s say, ten iPods for sale at 5am for $25, or ten 56 inch flat screen TVs for $200. You get the idea. It tricks people into the stores early. When the object of their desire is gone, they buy something, many things since they are up at 5am anyway. It is NOT rocket science.
The term Black Friday may have started in Philadelphia, where it described the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic. But now merchants and the media have taken hold of it, and even glorified it. As far as it being the busiest day, it is a creation of the media. Typically, the busiest day is the last Saturday before Christmas, unless Christmas Day falls on Sunday. But electronics and toys are the most popular items of the day.
Originally, September, 24, 1869 was called Black Friday since it was the day of the first stock market catastrophe. Black Friday may also be linked to various Santa Claus parades across the country. In New Mexico, Black Friday is a state holiday called President’s Day, rather than the third Monday in February. This day has even extended its reach to the Internet with the online retail equivalent to Black Friday, now gloriously called Cyber Black Friday. Last year, $595 million was spent this day for online shopping sprees.
But unfortunately, Thanksgiving Day is becoming more important for cyber shopping, and has even adopted the term, Cyber Thanksgiving. It has become the lead in to subvert the early morning Black Friday shoppers. And of course, Cyber Monday refers to the day after the four day weekend, to reach those who were unable to shop over the traditional four day extravaganza.
I have NEVER participated in this event, mostly since I was working, or out of town on vacation. I may just try to observe the craziness, just to say I have seen it. Or maybe, I will just sit back, and try the Cyber version, avoid the traffic, and enjoy the day after Thanksgiving as a day of rest. What do you think?
And I repeat, I have never participated in Black Friday!!!