What is Black Friday?
For some, it’s the most anticipated event of the year for others it’s nothing short of a nuisance. But there’s no denying the fact that Black Friday has now become an unstoppable force in the retail sphere.
Though started in the US, Black Friday has now been implemented by nearly 20 other countries some of which include, UK, Canada, Mexico, Japan to name a few.
Black Friday has become the highlight many bargain-hunters’ calendar. Whether you're brave enough to join the overcrowded streets or to shop online from the comfort of your warm bed, there are massive savings to be had.
With many items including laptops, game consoles, mobile phones, clothes being sold at a fraction of their original price. So what exactly is Black Friday and how can you make the most of it?
Black Friday origins
It was the informal way of calling the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the US. Thanksgiving day is mostly celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
The day after thanksgiving usually kicks off the Christmas shopping season. This has been going on since 1952.
The name Black Friday is likely to have originated in Philadelphia. It came about as a result of describing the disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which resulted from people hitting the shops the day after Thanksgiving.
This term dates back as far as the early 60s.
More than 2 decades later, as the term became more widespread other explanations of it began to emerge. One very popular one is that the day marks the point in the year when retails start to make a profit – from being in the red to being in the black
In order to participate in Black Friday sales, many stores offer extreme reductions in prices, open very early, even as early as midnight. Others go as far as even opening their stores on Thanksgiving day itself.
Some states like California actually observe the day after Thanksgiving day, as an official holiday for their state government employees – in place of another Holiday like Columbus Day.
The shopping potential for retailers is enhanced because many schools and non-retail employees have Thanksgiving Day, Friday and the weekend off. Making it a long four-day weekend.
Black Friday sales reports
According to reports, Black Friday has consistently been the busiest shopping day every year since 2005. Even though some research shows this trend has been going on for much longer than that.
This is very positive feedback for retailers as year upon year, reports show stores running out of stock and shoppers hysteria at trying to grab a bargain. Also very positive feedback for the economy as a whole.
According to the data provided by the National Retail Federation (NRF), for the first time since the recession in 2008, there was a fall in the spending volume on Black Friday.
Sales were usually up by 3.4% since they started tracking in 1992, but went down by 4.6% in the previous year. In 2009, there was an increase in sales by 0.3% with an average spend of $373 per person.
In 2010, there was a rebound of sales by 5.2% taking spending to $45 Million
This rose again in 2011 by 4.6% as a result of many stores opening on the evening of Thanksgiving.
In 2013, there was a recorded $57.4 million spent over the entire Black Friday weekend. Though lower than the amount spent in 2012 which was $60million.
In 2013, the NFR stopped reporting sales estimate for Black Friday instead it reported sales for the holiday season as a whole.
The Christmas creep has been seen to have a diminishing impact on the Black Friday weekend as many retailers are now spreading out sales promotion over the months of November and December as a whole rather than focusing it all on Black Friday weekend.
The NFR suggests that the holiday season Consists of November and December.
Black Friday stores opening times
It was common many years ago for stores to open their doors by 6 am at the earliest. By late 2000s many started opening as early as 4 am and 5 am.
In 2012, several retailers including Walmart announced most of their stores would be open to customers by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day.
A very unpopular idea especially for staff who had to leave their families to go into work. Many of whom threatened walkouts.
The threats were not quite effective because, in 2014, big stores such as JCPenney, Radio Shack and Best Buy had their doors opened by 5:00 pm on Thanksgiving day and others such as Sears, Walmart, Target were opened by 6:00 pm.
Some states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine were very much opposed to this idea and prohibited Department stores, supermarkets and big-box stores from opening on Thanksgiving Day.
Critics referred to this as the Blue Laws. The Massachusetts ban on employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving day and other holidays was a part of the State’s Common Day of Rest Law. On July 8 2017, a public hearing was held on a bill that allowed stores to open on Thanksgiving Day.
Black Friday set-backs
There are many reasons why most people prefer to participate in Black Friday sales from the comfort of their homes. One of them being reports of violence among shoppers.
12 deaths and 117 injuries have been reported in United States since 2006.
Shoppers have also been known to camp out in front of shops over the thanksgiving to secure a place and a chance to get their hands on their desired items.
The safety risks posed by such situations are very high because some shoppers use propane and generators in elaborate cases. There’s also the safety issue of emergency exits and fire lanes being blocked.
This has caused a few cities to ban the practice.
Environmentalists also cite that such huge discounts encourage people to buy what they don’t necessarily need leading to overproduction and wastage which are bad for the environment and contribute to climate change.
Black Friday online shopping
Since the beginning of the 21st century, several stores with origins in the US have now introduced Black Friday to their stores in other countries.
Black Friday shopping tips
1. Have a plan
Before you even attempt to hit the crowded shops, decide on what you want to buy first. Make a list of all the stores you want to visit and find out their opening times.
The truth is, you are in competition with thousands of other shoppers so make sure to set your alarm to give you plenty of head start. Head to shops whose layout you are most familiar with in order to avoid running around in search of items.
2. Have a budget in mind
Have a clear budget in mind and stick to it to avoid the temptation of overspending. The best way to do this is to know exactly what you need to buy.
Write down a comprehensive list of all the people you need to shop for and what exactly you are getting for them.
It’s most likely you’ll have to revisit this list over and over again but make sure to finalize before heading to the stores. Avoid the temptation of impulse buy especially if it takes you over your already planned budget.
3. Follow retailers on social media
Compile a list of all the retailers you want to shop from and follow them online. Also, sign up for their email alerts.
Retailers are sure to send out Black Friday deals notifications early. This will help you plan on what you can get online and what you can get from the store.
4. Download Apps
There are so many apps out there specially targeted at Black Friday enthusiasts. Most of these apps send information about the best deals in the area directly to your phone.
Others curate coupons and keep track of store reward points.
5. Take advantage of Credit Card Reward schemes.
Some stores partner with credit card companies to offer holiday savings cashback reward schemes. Check to see if you are eligible for such schemes before heading out to take advantage of the Black Friday sales.
It’s important to remember that Black Friday only just marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. If for some reason you don’t feel like or can’t shop on Black Friday, it’s no big deal as you still have plenty of time left.
There’s also Cyber Monday to look forward to. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year online in the United States.
Being online means you get to avoid the crowded shops and shop while on the move.
Do you head out to the stores on Black Friday? What are some of your helpful tips?
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Kami C. is a wife and mum to 2 adorable boys. She is a Life Coach, author and freelance writer. She believes that each and everyone one of us was created for a reason. That, we all have unique sets of talents and gifts available to us. Her mission is to help individuals find their purpose and realise their full potential. To empower people to create the live they want and deserve.