The Dark Side of Black Friday: Expensive Cheapness MIND(s that filled) THE GAP(s) [XIX]
Black Friday has become a well-known commercial event, but how many of us know what it means? Is it a boon to our pockets or is it really just a way for the big retailers to sell their products?
People believe that Black Friday is named after the concept that businesses operate at a loss until the day after Thanksgiving, when massive sales help them make a profit. Although, this does not apply.
Philadelphia merchants are said to have coined the term Big Friday in an attempt to change the perception of the day. It was not until the late 1980s that merchants began spreading a narrative about red-to-black profits that the term Black Friday became synonymous with retail sales growth. An (Philadelphian) urban legend says that, before that, it was the police officers who used the phrase to describe the mayhem that resulted from a swarm of people arriving in the city to start their holiday shopping and watch the annual Army-Navy football game.
In fact, in the United States, most stores see their largest sales on the Saturday before Christmas, and not on Black Friday. There are some other buying-booster days: Small Business Saturday promotes local retailers, and Cyber Monday encourages shopping online; in recent years, Black Friday has been followed by other shopping holidays. Additionally, Giving Tuesday has become a popular charitable giving day.
Black Friday has a second meaning in history that has nothing to do with shopping. In 1869, besides purchasing as much gold as they could at the New York Gold Exchange, two Wall Street bankers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, tried to monopolize the country’s gold market in an effort to drive up the prices globally and benefit handsomely from its late sale. As a result of President Ulysses S. Grant’s intervention on Friday, September 24, their scheme failed. Numerous Americans filed for bankruptcy after the stock market immediately crashed.
Some kind of Santa Claus’s shopping scouts
When referring to the shopping frenzy that followed Thanksgiving, the term Black Friday was thus originally used in Philadelphia in the 1960s. To accommodate November as a whole, retailers have increased their selection. In order to start off the Christmas season, retailers decrease prices. Nevertheless, it is not always the case that things appear to be on sale.
Black Friday made the big transition from clogged streets and packed businesses to hysterical customers squabbling over parking spots and the newest must-have toy somewhere along the line? In the 2000s, Black Friday turned into the maddening, excessive shopping occasion that it is now, when it was declared to be the busiest shopping day of the year. That honour had been reserved for the Saturday before Christmas up to that point. However, when more merchants began promoting “can’t miss” post-Thanksgiving bargains and the Black Friday discounts increased, American shoppers were unable to resist the allure of this major shopping day.
In 2011, Walmart made the announcement that it will begin sales on Thanksgiving night, rather than opening its doors on Friday morning. That sparked a frenzy among other big-box shops, which swiftly imitated it. The term Black Friday now refers to a lengthier weekend-long celebration.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that the five-day holiday weekend between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2022 had 196.7 million shoppers in the US, an increase of roughly 17 million over 2021 and the largest total since NRF first started monitoring this data in 2017.
Wild wild websites: the online goes off-road
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, an analogous custom known as Cyber Monday has developed for internet shops. After the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, people are supposed to return to work prepared to begin shopping. In order to compete with the Black Friday deals at physical stores, online companies frequently announce their promotions and specials before the actual day.
But Black Friday is becoming much more popular even on the internet, as it has since 2019 eclipsed Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online purchases. According to the NRF, 77 million people made purchases online on Cyber Monday 2022 and over 87.2 million did so on Black Friday 2022. Naturally, if one store opens early, the rest of them would have to follow suit since no one wants to lose consumers. Retailers started opening earlier and earlier, chasing customers with great deals ahead of the competition. Eventually, Black Friday got to start at midnight.
From the outset, Amazon has taken part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It had to, as consumers will just stop shopping at Amazon if discounts aren’t offered. Amazon has had Prime Day every year since 2015. On July 15, Prime Day takes place. In the same way that it does on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon offers discounts and bargains to Prime members on Prime Day. If you’ve had your eye on a few gadgets and gizmos but haven’t quite had the money to pull the trigger on them recently, the greatest Amazon Cyber Monday offers honour the single biggest shopping occasion of the year. The sale will run throughout November at almost every shop you can imagine, but Amazon routinely puts on one of the biggest and greatest sales.
Given that there is a weekend in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some customers may be unsure whether it is wise to wait until the last day of the sale to see if there will be any better deals available. According to our observations, there isn’t much of a difference between the two days, and prices have seldom changed or significantly improved from one day to the next.
To the globalization of the shopping frenzies
In 2010, the US retailer Amazon organized a Black Friday online campaign for the UK. In 2011, some EU nations’ shops ran modest, small-scale promotions, with Asda stores in the UK serving as one example. In contrast to its early days in the US, Black Friday in Europe gained a lot of traction online, especially in France and Germany in 2014 and 2015.
With over £7 billion in sales on European Black Friday, the UK leads the pack, followed by Germany with over €6 billion, France with over €4 billion, and Italy with over €2 billion. Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium are among nations with substantial sales. Black Friday has been a success in all EU nations, including Romania, and in 2013 there have already been shopping binges modelled after those in the US. That year, we witnessed some changes in Romanians’ consumer behaviour.
Years later, as the economy grew, the majority of Romanian online shoppers spent between 1,000 (approx. USD200) and 2,000 lei on Black Friday, although the proportion of transactions under 100 lei rose. The majority of purchases (39%) were still made using personal savings, but there was a rise in purchases made with credit cards, as well as money set aside for Black Friday promotions, overdrafts, and loans. Clothing and footwear, personal care, skincare, and home appliances were the most popular items.
Early discount ads failed to enhance Romanians’ interest in the Black Friday phenomenon in 2020 the way they did in 2019. The number of people who created their shopping lists one to two days (4%) and one week (6%) prior to Black Friday, however, increased somewhat. Additionally, there was a rise in the proportion of customers who made early purchases of their chosen goods, particularly on the weekend before to Black Friday (40%).
In conclusion, the Black Friday is the kind of event that has both a black and a white side, beneficial for some and costly for others. All these depending on cash balances, as well as on inflationary imbalances.
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