You may be wondering “what is all this Black Friday business and where did it come from”. The term was in use as long ago as the 1950s to describe the shopping frenzy that followed Thanksgiving. Amazon brought it to the UK about five years ago, and now many retailers focus their pre-Christmas sales around the date.
Some are offering alternatives this year - booksellers, for example, are planning Civilised Saturday. It involves tea and cake, rather than queuing in the cold, which makes it sound pretty appealing.
It may be Thanksgiving in the US today - but that is not stopping more than a dozen major retailers including Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s from opening their doors. Admittedly they’ve left it until about now - after the turkey has been carved (on the East Coast at least).
However, J.C. Penney decided to fling open its doors at 3pm, while Staples has decided to stay closed today. I guess those packs of A4 and plastic sleeves will just have to stay on the shelves.
And for shoppers who just couldn’t wait, Walmart and Target made all the deals on offer in their stores available online this morning.
With so many stores offering deals early, my colleague Jana Kasperkevic in the US wonders if Black Friday will be quieter this year than last.
The fourth Thursday of each November, which to make is known as Thanksgiving, is in some circles known as Gray Thursday. It’s the younger sibling of the ultimate consumer holiday Black Friday, when many of US stores and retailers offer steep discounts.
Black Friday used to be a huge holiday shopping in the US. That’s right - used to be. Last year, Black Friday sales were down by as much as 11%. As we reported then:
The greatest shopping day of the year wasn’t, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation, which polled 4,631 consumers and estimated that sales at stores and online dropped by 11%. Sales were $50.9bn, $6.5bn less than 2013, and the overall haul was 6% smaller, with consumers spending, on average, $380.95 each over the holiday weekend.
Could it be that 2015 would continue the trend? It’s very likely considering the fact that many of the discounts that in the past were exclusively available on Black Friday are now often offered days in advance. Radio Shack said it would offer its deals on Wednesday and Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, began offering some deals as early as November 20th - a week in advance.