Think Black Friday and you either think of amazing deals or complete and utter chaos, but what is it and why did it start?
Black Friday is an informal name for the day after Thanksgiving in the United States (the fourth Thursday in November) and traditionally it’s the start of the Christmas shopping season.
The first reference to ‘Black Friday’ was in 1951 in the popular periodical Factory Management & Maintenance. It referred to the cheeky practice of factory workers phoning in sick on the day after Thanksgiving so they could enjoy a four-day weekend and quickly extended to police in Philadelphia referring to the unusually heavy foot and vehicle traffic that coincided with the start of the Christmas shopping season.
To make the name more palatable, the city of Philadelphia recommended calling it ‘Big Friday’ but that died a death as soon as it was proposed.
As the phrase became more widespread, the ultra-capitalist 1980s proffered the reason was that it was the day of the year when retailers moved out of the red and began to turn a profit, going into the black.
An absurd internet rumour that circulated in the early 2000s suggested that the phrase reared its ugly head in the American South during the Civil War and referred to the practice of selling slaves but that has subsequently been entirely debunked.
Black Friday in the UK
In the UK, the term originated with the police and National Health Service and it referred to the last Friday before Christmas when employees up and down the country would go out after work and drink until all hours and emergency plans had to be put in place to cope with the massive increase in hospital visits, fights inside and outside pubs and general end-of-term-style mayhem.
Amazon started their Black Friday adoption in 2010 and have been credited (or accused) of bringing the insanity to the UK.
A quick hop over to YouTube with the search term ‘Black Friday chaos’ and you can see some quite remarkable scenes of people fighting in shops at 4am trying to get their hands on TVs reduced by 80% and in the US since 2006 there have been an astonishing 12 deaths and hundreds of injuries due to people battling – literally – for knock-down bargains.
While really it’s nothing more than a marketing exercise driven by corporate greed, we’re falling for it in a big way.
In the last five years, we’ve spent a massive amount of money.
2014 – £810,000,000
2015 – £1,100,000,000
2016 – £1,200,000,000
2017 – £1,390,000,000
2018 – £1,490,000,000
2019 – £?
Higher or lower?
We’ll find out in a few weeks…
Join In Or Ignore?
There’s no question that if you get it right, there are some incredible bargains to be had, but how do you go about hunting them down and not getting caught out by last-minute deals that you’ll end up regretting or worse, getting hoodwinked by deals that appear too good to be true.
Hint – they usually are.
Use Voucher Sites – The majority of Black Friday deals are listed online but if you do a little research before getting your credit card out you could end up getting an even better deal.
Know What You’re Looking At – As we’ve said, if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it usually is. A £3,000 TV for £89 is unlikely to come to fruition so don’t always assume that the deal you’re looking at is bona fide.
Download Free Apps – There are lots of free apps detailing the pertinent information you need to make an informed decision as well as live feeds of the latest available offers.
Make Good Choices – Sales experiences like Black Friday when everyone is literally and metaphorically diving over each other for the best deals can be filled with adrenaline and it’s very easy to buy things for the sake of it so remember if you don’t get something you want, there’s always the January sales!
Wait For Cyber Monday – Another new phenomenon (on Monday December 2nd) whereby online retailers offer incredible deals to save the hassle of actually going to a shop to buy and in fact, many retailers won’t fully slash their prices until then anyway. Bide your time and you may end up getting a better deal than you thought.
Compare and Contrast – It’s useful to know what the original prices are before you get all starry-eyed so do your research.
Quality Over Quantity – Lots of us have a ‘smash and grab’ approach to Black Friday deals but it’s not about quantity. Find the one thing you want and try your hardest to get it rather than dividing your time between various bargains and ending up with nothing. Stick to the plan.
Check Social Media – Before you get going, take a scroll through your target’s Twitter feed. They will be blitzing social in the week leading up to Black Friday and you may find deals targeted to your particular area.
Pay With A Credit Card – This is perhaps the most important piece of advice. If you use a credit card (as opposed to a debit card) or even PayPal, you are much better protected online should anything unforeseen happen.
Stay Calm – Do you really want to end up with a criminal record because in a fit of rage you belted someone who got to the TV three milliseconds before you did so you could save £75? Unlikely.
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