All About Black Friday

by Linsey Knerl on 18 November 2011 4 comments
Photo: Kevin Spencer

Whether you're a dedicated deal-hunting warrior or you try to avoid the crowds entirely, around this time of year, it's hard to not hear about the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday. From some history on the event to how to handle it and more, read on! (See also: 3 Ways to Beat Holiday Shopping Stress)

When Is Black Friday?

The “busiest shopping day of the year” traditionally takes place on the day after Thanksgiving, although longer shopping days and earlier store hours have now taken the one day holiday into the “Thanksgiving zone.” Some stores are now set to open as early as 11:59 p.m. on turkey day itself, and Black Friday-like sales can be found happening online beginning November 1st. A few select stores have also dabbled in replacing the annoying “Christmas in July” marketing strategies with their own misplaced “Black Friday” promotions, which have appeared throughout the calendar year. The purists, however, still claim that there is one day (the Friday right after Thanksgiving), and anything else is just a marketing ploy.

Why It's Called “Black” Friday

Investopedia (and most everyone else) credits the dark name to the fact that stores are likely to turn profitable for the first time on this shopping holiday, and that their business ledgers would actually see their numbers go from “red” (indicating a fiscal loss) to “black.” Others (specifically, anti-commercialism groups) have more recently taken some of the most newsworthy incidents that have occurred on the holiday (store tramplings or robberies, for example) and have assigned new meaning to the “black” portion of the term.

Deals Offered on Black Friday

In addition to “door buster deals,” which claim to offer shoppers up to 60% off popular items like TVs, toys, and clothing, there are special promotional perks, such as in-store refreshments and giveaways. Many who participate, however, just like the rush of the deal, waiting in line, and communing with other deal-seekers.

Wise Bread has covered the topic of Black Friday and its deals extensively over the years, including articles such as Black Friday Tips From Money-Saving Experts, 5 Things You Shouldn't Buy This Black Friday, and 6 Ways to Spend Black Friday at Home.

Black Friday Facts

In addition to the essentials of how and why, I thought it would be fun to share a few random facts about the shopping holiday.

  • Cyber Money is the online version of Black Friday, offering shoppers exclusive deals at their favorite dotcoms; many of the best prices, however, are still available only on Black Friday, and most stores have moved to sharing the best deals online on the day after Thanksgiving.
     
  • In all of Black Friday history, 2008 was the only year to see a drop in electronics sales.
     
  • In recent years, Canada has held its own version of Black Friday to discourage border-hopping on the big day. As their deals haven’t been as aggressive as many U.S. retailers, however, many Canadian consumers have continued their “field trips” across the border to buy up good deals on consumer goods.
     
  • In an effort to control the messaging of their deals (and to pre-empt the “leak” sites that have been sharing deals before their official release), many major retailers, including Walmart, have taken to officially “leaking” their own sales. For example, this year customers were asked to sign up for a special email list to be among the first to view an official Black Friday ad — weeks before the ads were distributed in newspapers and online.
     
  • The emphasis on buying has caused some groups to rebel; AdBusters will again this year celebrate their own “Buy Nothing Day” to coincide with the hype of commercialism that Black Friday often brings about.
     
  • Mobile payment technology has created growth in the Black Friday market; just last year, PayPal reported an increase of 27% over 2009’s transactions (thanks, in part to the 310% increase in mobile shopping).

If you are not already tired of hearing about this year’s “Black Friday” event, chances are good that you will be. The hyped-up holiday, however, is an important part of many stores’ annual budget, and cash-strapped shoppers will always be looking to take advantage of the deals. 

Will you venture out this year?

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Guest's picture
PKamp3

That's a scary picture...

Let's just say I'm looking forward to Cyber Monday. Black Friday flashbacks are too traumatic.

Meg Favreau's picture

Agreed! But I don't like hanging out in crowds anyway...being in a crowd of people who are all trying to rush to great deals before they sell out just sounds awful, personally.

Guest's picture

This is one of the first years that mobile phone apps will come in great handy to those who love black friday deals, but hate the mob scene at the mall. The smart thing to do is to sit back and check your favorite stores sites for deals, and do your purchasing on the internet. Problem solved! No stores, crowds, or moms fighting over the very last game on the shelf. Skip the headache and download an app that will alert you when items on your wish list are at their lowest prices.

Kentin Waits's picture

Black Friday is a scary prospect to me. I think I love a good night's sleep too much to be shopping by 4:00am. :)