Black Friday hits the UK, but what is it?
The celebration of consumerism kicks off tomorrow in the US and is bigger than ever, with British retailers planning to import it to the UK
Thursday 28 November 2013
It sounds sinister, and it's even caused deaths in the past, but why do Americans get so excited about Black Friday and how did it get started?
What is it?
Traditionally, Black Friday marks the beginning of the frenzied Christmas shopping season in the US. Although the actual date is different every year, it’s always the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving – this year, it will be November 29.
With retailers across the country slashing their prices, it’s the busiest shopping day of the year. Hordes of shoppers invade their favourite stores, desperate to make the most of the seemingly impossible deals.
Initially, the sales began early on the Friday, with most retailers opening their doors at around six in the morning. But as the years passed, retailers started to open earlier and earlier. First it was pushed back to five in the morning, then to four, and then to all the way back to Thanksgiving Day itself. In recent times, the concept of the Black Friday sales being confined to just one day has been all but abandoned.
Why is it called Black Friday?
The Philadelphia police force coined the term in the 1960s. They were referring to the same day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, which even back then saw a mass of ravenous shoppers descend upon the area. Pedestrians and motorists caused a great deal of congestion, much to the dismay of the police, which led to the “Black Friday” labelling.
An alternative reason relates to accounting. As would be expected, the onslaught of customers leads to a considerable hike in retailers’ revenue (over $59 billion was spent across the four-day weekend last year). It is therefore said that the period propels retailers to move “out of the red” and “into the black”. Thus, Black Friday.
Who gets involved?
Who doesn’t. According to the National Retail Federation, up to 140 million people across America will descend en masse on retailers during the weekend and, understandably, there are few shops who would be willing to miss out on such an opportunity. The marketing push from the big firms is monumental – many start the campaign weeks in advance.
The phenomenon is also spreading to the UK. Admittedly, the British version isn’t exactly a mirror image of its American counterpart, but there have been major retailers, including Asda and Amazon, looking to make Black Friday a fixture on the UK’s shopping calendar.
However, the excitement does occasionally boil over into something decidedly more sinister. In America, there have been outbreaks of violence in the past, including shootings, stabbings, fighting and trampling. In 2008, a Walmart employee was fatally injured in a stampede at a store in New York. It’s the most extreme case, but does show how the blind rush for bargains can have tragic consequences.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising
Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
Kobani: Fifteen-year-old boy taken captive with suspected jihadist 'shot in the head by militant group' fighting against Isis
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
Isis fighters 'crucify' 17-year-old boy in Syria
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Olympic star must serve 10 years, prosecutor urges
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
£110 - £130 per day + TBA: Randstad Education Reading: Geography Teacher neede...
£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: This role has arisen due to inc...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Bu...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The RoleDue to demand we are cu...