Stepping on top of people just for a bargain? Black Friday is here to stay


Black Friday is a long-standing American tradition. But what is it and how did it get to the UK?

What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is a day of mass sales and consumerism in America, often charted as the start of the holiday shopping season. The event occurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving (which falls on the last Thursday of November). Bargain hunters go forth and seek out deals after stuffing their gobs with turkey, cranberry sauce and yams.  Retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and online shops all slash their prices in the hope of cashing in to make even larger profits.

What is  behind it?
Black Friday has its roots in 1950s Philadelphia. Apparently, local police officers started to use the term to describe the busy streets and the smog created by traffic and the subsequent large crowds of people flocking to watch a local Army vs Navy American Football game. In the 1980s, television stations and advertisers used the day to attract shoppers out on this holiday and spend their cash.

Contrary to what has been circulating through social media recently the tradition has nothing to do with slavery or slave traders selling slaves at discounted prices. Others believe the term came from the time in the year that shops started to make profit, moving from the red (loss making) to the black (profit making).

Why is it in the UK?
Black Friday is characterised by long queues, early starts and sometimes scenes of hysteria and violence. Black Friday was brought to the UK by Amazon and Asda in 2010, since then more and more retailers have adopted the practice. The main reason why this has been absorbed by retailers across the pond is because businesses can smell the increasing amount of potential pound signs. 2013 saw Black Friday come into its own in the UK, charting big sales for many retailers.

A downside to all of this bargain hunting is that it can sometimes causes crazy scenes of not very British like queueing and madness. In 2014 some shops opened at 12 midnight with flocks of people lining up outside, literally stepping on and over each other to get that marked down plasma screen TV.

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These scenes are not what people are used to in this country.  With reports of retailers like ASOS inflating their costs  in 2014, on the run up to the day and then offering 30% discounts, leaving prices sometimes higher than the original ones, some people are less than happy.

Who cares?
Some people feel that the day promotes mass consumerism and greed. I’m a lover of bargains myself however, queueing, fighting and losing sleep over some apparent lower priced goods is not really how I like to spend my time. Jumping on the discount bandwagon does not really make sense to me especially when it hasn’t been made relevant to this country. As Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, having the day after it as some kind of sales paradise is slightly strange.

What’s more, if retailers are seeing this as an excuse to hoodwink and trick consumers into thinking they are getting a bargain when they are not, then I’m definitely not a fan. Unfortunately or fortunately, Black Friday does look like it is here to stay.

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