It’s almost impossible to have not realised that today is Black Friday and after receiving 36 emails today, the majority of which were related to it, I decided that as I can’t avoid its existence, I may as well just blog about it. So firstly, what actually is Black Friday?
I’m from the UK, and so Black Friday is not something that I have really experienced before and I was only previously aware of its existence due to references in my favourite American sitcoms. Black Friday is the day which follows Thanksgiving Day in the USA (which was yesterday), and is often seen to be the signifier of the start of the Christmas season. Unfortunately for us living in the UK, the Christmas season pretty much started here straight after Halloween on the 1st of November. Historically, the term Black Friday originates from Philadelphia, where it was originally used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would appear the day after Thanksgiving. But more simply, Black Friday is basically our equivalent to the infamous Boxing Day sales, where shops and online retailers apply discounts across their stock, drawing in hundreds of crazed sale shoppers.
While this is a long running American tradition, why is it that this year it seems to have made its way over to the UK? Apart from the obvious reasons of stores generating more sales in time with Christmas, I just don’t understand why it is relevant to our country. I don’t know of any British people who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, so why are we participating in Black Friday?
After thinking about it, I realised that it probably stemmed from the internet. Online shopping has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with sales across Europe expected to reach over £111.2 billion this year. Mobile shopping is also becoming increasingly popular, because who has time to sit down at a computer or laptop and shop? With large online retailers such as Amazon and Apple promoting Black Friday in the UK in 2011, and Asda (a sister company of the American store, Walmart) jumping on the bandwagon in 2013 launching its “Walmart’s Black Friday by ASDA” campaign, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the UK’s stores saw the opportunity to increase their sales and entice Christmas shoppers.
The shopping event has caused chaos across the country, both in high street stores and online with many websites being down due to the high volume of shoppers. Unsurprisingly, Black Friday has managed to stretch itself onto a whole weekend and is followed by Cyber Monday on, well, Monday. So, if you’re a poor student like me who can barely afford to buy food, let alone a new TV or clothes, I suggest that you stay inside this weekend, hidden away from the scary sale shoppers hoping to grab themselves a bargain! And just in case you’re tempted to risk it, I’ve attached a video showing what you’re getting yourself into!