Black Friday is not at all scary for bargain hunters. What started out as a post-Thanksgiving shopping spree in the United States has spread to all corners of the globe, including New Zealand. In our neck of the woods, Black Friday sales in 2016 increased by 160 % on the previous year, as we rushed to snap up discounts of up to 70%. What a way to start your Christmas shopping!
Origin of Black Friday
The origin of “Black Friday” is often clouded in mystery. One of the cuter explanations for the term is that it was the day when retailers went from operating at a loss (“in the red”) to trading at a profit (“in the black”). A nice story but probably not a true one. It’s far more likely that the “Black Friday” term originated in 1950s Philadelphia, where police used the words to describe the day between Thanksgiving Thursday and the Army-Navy game on Saturday. Hordes of shoppers and tourists went into the city on that Friday, and the police had to work extra hours to deal with the crowds and traffic. It might have been a great day for the public, but a black one for the overworked police officers! However, the term “Black Friday” stuck and soon it was being used nationally, and then internationally, as the title of a one-day retail event like no other.
Evolving into a shopping holiday
In modern times, online shopping has seen “Black Friday” become more than a one-day phenomenon. The entire weekend now sees deals being offered, with the whole thing ending on what has become known as “Cyber Monday.” Online shopping is, as we all know, a growing trend and this is clearly reflected in the “Black Friday” figures for 2017 in the United States. Online sales at the 100 largest U.S. retailers totalled approximately USD $7.9 billion on Black Friday and Thanksgiving – an 18 % increase from 2016.
Benefits of Black Friday
Obviously, the benefits of “Black Friday” to the consumer are obvious. The chance to buy some great big bargains with Christmas looming on the horizon being a standout. Obviously, this puts pressure on retailers to lower their prices, and their margins. However, they can also derive benefits from this worldwide shopping spree. For example, it allows them to clear stock before the Christmas and holiday season. They can acquire new customers, who come for the bargains but might return even when the prices are back at normal levels. Retailers can even increase their sales of full-price items simply because shoppers have money burning a hole in their pocket and they feel they MUST spend it on something – because that’s what “Black Friday” is all about!
Watch for “Black Friday” to become even more of an online phenomenon as people avoid crowded shopping centres and opt to shop from the comfort of their own home. Watch too for New Zealand retailers and consumers to further embrace this global event and use it as a springboard for the Christmas and holiday shopping season. Because no matter where we live on the planet, it seems like we’re all in the market for a crazy deal.