The shopping extravaganza that is Black Friday was introduced to us by the good people at Amazon in 2010, with Asda (aka Walmart) joining in 2013. Thankfully, there’s an increasing push-back against this phenomenon which seems to hurt us more than it helps.
Only three days ago Which? found that 95% of sale items on Black Friday in 2018 were the same price or cheaper after the sales (link). I.e., by creating the illusion of scarcity, retailers hope to encourage higher spending. And how often do people buy something they would have bought anyway, vs buying something because it’s on offer? If it’s the latter, you’d save more money by staying away from the stores.
This is anecdotal, but the genuine discounts I’ve seen on Black Friday are from small shops I have a relationship with. They get swept up in the frenzy and offer deals not seen at other times of year – good for us in the moment, but what lasting damage does it do when those same shops are vacating our high streets?
Black Friday has become known as ‘the day after Thanksgiving,’ which is widely celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November. The term dates to 1869 when two financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, were manipulating the U.S. gold market, leading President Grant to flood said market with gold from the Treasury, crashing prices and wiping out fortunes. The phrase evolved until the early 1980s when it became known as the day retailers turned a profit (denoted by black ink), after making losses (denoted by red ink) for most of the year.
Although Amazon hijacked the term, in the U.K. it’s a nickname used by the Police and NHS for the last Friday before Christmas when people party, and they prepare in early December for the increased workload.
Black Friday is to Americans what Boxing Day sales are to us Brits, but we now have both and most Americans still don’t know what Boxing Day is…
All in all, we want no part of it and will always offer the best price we can year-round. We live in a stuff-driven society and while we all need to buy things, encouraging us to buy more than we need when our oceans are filling with plastic is irresponsible. We don’t want to make it worse.
Let us know in the comments below of any businesses shunning Black Friday sales, or even closing completely to distance themselves from one of the central markers of rampant consumerism in our country.