It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrimbo and to kick off our season of festive content Chris Knox looks at the sometimes absurd consumer tradition that is Black Friday.
It’s that time again. No, not Christmas, we’re not quite there yet, despite what the adverts and the Channel 5 TV schedule might suggest. No, before we get all festive there’s the small matter of Black Friday to contend with.
Alongside the John Lewis advert, Black Friday represents another starting pistol for the Christmas retail period, turning seemingly sane individuals into stampeding bargain hungry shopaholics, whose sole purpose is to melt as much plastic as is humanly possible.
Ok, so maybe things have moved on a tad from shoulder-barging old age pensioners out of the way in the pursuit of a half price HD-ready telly (though in my defence she was throwing her cane about). No, Black Friday is now a far more sophisticated affair, one which runs seamlessly into its stablemate, Cyber Monday, created for those who prefer the relative safety of their electronic device of choice.
The type of products subject to Black Friday have also increased in scope. These days you can shop for everything from sofas to holidays and even cars (more to come on that one). It really is a smorgasbord of deals…….and we just love it.
Zombie Horde - suspiciously like a typical Black Friday. Image from stockhead.com.au
Where did it all begin?
So, how did all this Black Friday malarkey start? Unsurprisingly, like most modern traditions here in the UK, it originated in the US and was associated with financial crisis and the collapse of the US gold market on September 1869.
It was given a new lease of life in Philadelphia in the 1960s, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that followed the day after Thanksgiving. In more recent years the term has been redefined to describe the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, or, in other words, move from the red into the black.
It wasn’t until the early 2010s when the term was used here in the UK by Amazon, before which it was more associated with ‘Black Eye Friday’ - a term used by the NHS and Police to describe the late-night city centre shenanigans that take place during the last Friday before Christmas. Think ‘The Purge’ with Jägerbombs.
Adopted by Asda in 2013, the term quickly snowballed and is now, for many businesses, the biggest date in the retail calendar.
Is Black Friday still popular?
In a word, obvs. While people you work with may act all cool and above such things, Black Friday is still pretty huge and remains much like Arnie’s tribulations in the film Jingle All the Way (stay posted for our upcoming Christmas film Top 10 blog).
A report by user experience agency Sigma showed that purchases made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year injected £7bn into the British retail sector. While this was down by 7% compared to 2017, it remains an impressive figure and represented a 28% jump in overall retail spending when compared to its previous weeks.
This year’s event is again expected to give retailers a much-needed kick-start to the festive period, with a report by PwC indicating that just over half of us are interested in or are planning to buy something on the day, with electricals once again topping the wish list. What’s more it claims that UK shoppers plan to spend 11% more than last year – that’s an average of £224. Wowsers.
It would certainly seem that Black Friday is here to stay, so why not just embrace it? Just give in. I mean I’m fairly cynical most of the time, but even I can’t resist a bargain when it comes down to it. So, get the body armour ready, sharpen those elbows and make sure you’re the one standing victorious on the pile of bloodied and exhausted shoppers, waving aloft your very own Excalibur, which just happens to double up as a sandwich toaster - 30% off while stocks last. Hurrah!
So, whether you’re planning to join the scrum or take your chances with the spinning doughnut of death online, we wish you the best of luck. Happy Black Friday one and all.
The Lookers Black Event
Lookers are also joining the sales excitement with The Black Event.
Take advantage of huge savings on new and used cars, right across the range, until 1st December.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll be guaranteed a more relaxed experience than your usual department store, with soft chairs and refreshments on hand to help you take the load off.
Find out more and browse what's on offer at the Black Event.
Header image from qz.com