ASB MAGAZINE: Black Friday is the name given to the shopping day after Thanksgiving in the USA. It’s a curious retail phenomenon that’s reached its way across the Pacific and taken a grip on Australian shoppers. It’s also spawned off another shopping binge know as Cyber Monday. Black Friday is the type of calendar event that sweeps you up and sucks you in quicker than a Hallmark card with thousands of Australian shoppers pouring hundreds of millions of dollars both online and instore, without a single thought as to why. Where did the term ‘Black Friday’ come from and why do Australian shoppers spend close to $320 million this weekend? It’s an anomaly on our retail calendar that’s neither end of financial year and ahead of the Christmas shopping spree. Well, Black Friday is named ‘Black Friday’ because so many people went out to shop (after Thanksgiving) that it caused traffic accidents and sometimes even violence. The Philadelphia Police Department coined the phrase to describe the mayhem surrounding the congestion of pedestrian and auto traffic in the downtown area as early as the 1960’s.
The name was first recorded in 1966 by Earl Apfelbaum, a dealer in rare stamps. In his ad, he said, “‘Black Friday’ is the name that the Philadelphia Police Department gave to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment for them. ‘Black Friday’ officially opens the Christmas shopping season. It usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.” The most violence on Black Friday seems to occur at US giant Walmart, leading to the Twitter hashtag each year #Walmartfights. The retailer was the site of 57.1 percent of Black Friday incidents within the last decade. The next most violent locations, shopping malls, were the scene of 17.9 percent of the incidents. Thirty percent involved trampling and another 26.7 percent were shootings.
Retailers did not appreciate the negative connotation associated with a black day of the week. They had a good point, since the media used it to describe stock market crashes. For example, Black Monday was the name journalists gave to October 19, 1987. On that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22 percent. The Dow’s closing history shows that was the largest percentage drop on one day in stock market history.
So, it was actually US retailers who wanted to make the name ‘Black Friday’ mean something positive. To them, the Friday after Thanksgiving was one of the most profitable days of the year. To compensate, they decided to follow the adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Retailers changed the name to reflect their success. Accountants use black to signify profit when recording each day’s book entries. They use red to indicate loss. So, Black Friday means profitable Friday to retailing and to the economy.Thanks to the power of the internet and global brands, holla! Black Friday is now a retail institution in Australia, minus the Thanksgiving turkey.
So as Australians prepare to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the growing global phenomenon that is the Black Friday sale (and its digital offshoot Cyber Monday) they’ve been warned to do their homework to ensure they’re getting a real deal.
According to an article in the SMH, Adam Ferrier, consumer psychologist from creative agency Thinkerbell, said the way sales events like Black Friday work is through loss aversion.
“A sale is on for a limited time, so people don’t want to miss out,” he told SMH. Mr. Ferrier warned shoppers to be wary when participating in mass sales and make sure they are actually saving money. “Check the price and see what it normally goes for, you might not be getting a bargain at all,” he said.
Research from Finder.com.au suggests 70 per cent of Americans participate in the sale event with some camping outside stores to secure deals. About 21 per cent of Australians participate spending about $320 million over the weekend online and in store. Many Australian retailers are investing a lot more into their digital strategy and Black Friday, to keep up with Amazon’s newly launched presence in the country.
More on Amazon’s impact in Oz HERE For an excellent overview of all things Black Friday, EmpireAve have compiled an incredible list of sales within the surf sector and beyond. Head over HERE for the run down. Like this article and independent surf journalism? Why not subscribe for $2 per week HERE
Because story’s don’t grow on trees 🙂