The term “Black Friday” first appeared in the journal Factory Management and Maintenance in 1951. It signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, when many retailers finally go “in the black” – that is, they become profitable for the year.
More recently, Black Friday has become a setting for consumer misbehavior as shoppers compete for deeply discounted products. Fighting, pepper-spraying, dumping merchandise, ransacking stores, robberies and shootings have all been reported on Black Friday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has even issued guidelines to retailers about how to avoid injuries and deaths.
In the U.S., the most shocking example of misbehavior occurred in 2008 when a Walmart worker was trampled and killed as shoppers rushed to enter the store.
So what causes some consumers to behave so badly?
It starts with the unique characteristics of Black Friday sales promotions and the frantic retail environment they create. Retailers heavily promote their most desirable items at deeply discounted prices in order to encourage more foot traffic. Demand for those precious few items naturally exceeds supply. That imbalance can lead to aggressive consumer behavior.
But another key ingredient is sleep deprivation, which results from the very timing of the sales, which may begin at midnight or early in the morning and require eager customers to camp outside a store all night. That means many Black Friday shoppers aren’t functioning at their best, resulting in grumpy moods and bad decisions.
Black Friday Around The World
Although there is a cultural basis for Black Friday in the United States, the vast potential income available to retailers has meant that many other nations have also embraced the concept. Over the last few years, it has become common for stores in Britain to run Black Friday promotions, and for the holiday to receive significant media coverage.
This undoubtedly underlines the cultural power of shopping in the 21st century, as Black Friday essentially makes absolutely no sense in Britain whatsoever! There is no Thanksgiving in the UK, Black Friday is not a public holiday, and therefore there is absolutely no basis for this very American event to be embraced. Indeed, a comment piece in the trade publication Retail Week described it as “simply an Americanism, which doesn’t translate very well”.
Nonetheless, with spending on Black Friday increasing by 12 percent in 2016 over the 2015 iteration of the event, it is clear that retailers are making a significant effort to market this concept to British people as well. Other countries have also embraced the term, particularly America’s North American neighbours Canada and Mexico, but retail offers have even spread as far afield as India, Pakistan and Germany.
Black Friday in Norway
Last year (2018) we Norwegians spent a whopping kr3,7billion ($403million) during Balck Friday. That's crazy for a population of just above 5,3million especially when taking into account that 22.des (the official "Shit, I've got to buy Xmas presents"-day) still generated kr3,9billion in sales. This begs the question whether alot of presents are actually bought on Black Friday and 22.des would see a greater sales revenue without it or if Black Friday is mostly "Selfshopping".
An ever increasing trend is to shop on credit. Over halv a million norwegians financed their xmas shopping with credit cards. (source: https://www.tv2.no/a/10241733/)
How much of the kr3,7billion from Black Friday is financed by credit cards?
Ok, but why not just a little offer since everyone else is?
Well, there's the generall scary crazy that is Black Friday. There's the fact that Black Friday affects the rest of november (and even a few weeks of oktober) making it very difficult month to predict and run a business. There's the norwegian (and probably global) mentality that "Nothing is actually worth paying full price for". This last statement is 100% our fault as brands and companies with our neverending sales marketing for quick turnovers.
The real truth behind why we don't and can't join the Black Friday Circus is that our products are made from expensive high-quality materials by manufacturers who paying proper wages and secure good working conditions. For this reason, even though our products are prices as premium, our margins are small. We would rather keep our prices as low as possible throughout the year than overprice for the sake of sales.
We hope this has not come across as a rant in any way but more as a cautious observation and a hope that we not lose our heads tomorrow. Good luck tomorrow.
Please leave your thoughts below. The best discussions need all viewpoints :)