Black Friday – a consumer craze not only in the United States

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Max Fisher/Pexels Black Friday was born in the consumerist, distant America and falls on the first Friday after the American Thanksgiving, i.e. on the last Friday of November. Today, the celebration of shopping riot is already celebrated in most developed European, Asian and African countries. It is true that the turnover on this day is incomparably higher in the United States than elsewhere, but we are slowly approaching the leveling of results.

The beginnings of the shopping fever

Historians associate the rise of Black Friday with the American Thanksgiving parades. They were sponsored and patiently exploited by department stores that advertised their products at supposedly innocent gatherings. This subconsciously influenced the people participating in the celebrations, who over time chose the day after the holiday as the beginning of their shopping mania. When shop owners noticed this profitable trend, they decided to break the traditional rules. After the effective pressure of the employees of the then chain stores (in 1939), President Franklin Roosevelt signed a document that established that Thanksgiving Day was to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November (so far it had fallen on the last). So officially Christmas shopping could have started a week earlier. How sad to think that one of America’s most important holidays, the foundation of its statehood, has failed miserably at frivolous consumerism.

Why black?

The origin of the name of the shopping feast – Black Friday – has several translations. The media used this name for the first time in 1981. Black is the color of ink that accountants and salespeople used to mark profit in their books, red for loss. However, the more widely known explication of this term is its initial use already 20 years earlier by police officers working in the Philadelphia traffic police. Black Friday was associated by the services with a terrible situation on congested roads, streets and even crowded sidewalks. Police officers had to work 12-hour shifts to keep traffic under control. Philadelphia’s merchants, of course, did not like the term. After all, black has a rather pejorative connotation (for example, the most famous Black Friday took place in 1869, when the gold market crashed). So they tried to replace this foreboding epithet with something more joyful, such as Big Friday. Unsuccessfully. Black Friday settled in forever.

Black Thursday, weekend, week…

The Black Friday tradition has developed into other days as well. Today we can meet the term Black Thursday, Black Weekend, or even Black Week. Although initially approved, it was later also criticized as a symbol of increasing consumerism and evidence that society is forgetting what Thanksgiving is about. On Black Friday, you can buy just about anything. From electronics and household appliances to cosmetics, furniture and books. This day begins with numerous sales, favorable promotions, during which products can be purchased even after a very large discount: 50- or even 70-percent. For customers, it is therefore a time of hunting, searching for desired items, equipment, clothing, etc.
The clear leader here is the United States, where consumers can line up days before the scheduled date, when promotions are at their peak. With the growing power of the Internet, online shopping is becoming more and more popular, especially in the era of the (slowly fading) pandemic. As much as 77 percent (Deloitte, 2020) of respondents in the United States said that on this special day they prefer to do their shopping from the comfort of home. This involves the possibility of avoiding burdensome crowds in stores and, of course, fears for your own health. COVID-19 has cooled the Black Friday craze around the world. In the United States, 2020 turned out to be the most profitable year – Black Friday brought in a profit of USD 9 billion. A year later, contrary to all predictions, the turnover was already lower. Now we can only look forward to Black Days to experience firsthand the wild crowds rushing through the steamy corridors of all the shopping malls…

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