The countdown to Black Friday 2018 has begun, as retailers and consumers gear up to the annual mega-sale pencilled in for 23rd November. The concept began in the United States, when Black Friday was traditionally the day after Thanksgiving – an annual celebration at the end of November.
The event has become a market sensation since 2005 and has spread to the UK. It has become the busiest shopping day of the year, on both sides of the Atlantic.
Retailers online and in high street stores offer special promotions and sales to shoppers, resulting in customers arriving early when they learn of a great bargain, sometimes even camping out overnight so they’re first in the queue!
Last year, the Black Friday sales started early, and many retailers were running special promotions throughout November, so it pays to get clued up and keep an eye on who’s selling what and when! All the major retailers get involved, both online and in-store.
Why Black Friday?
There are numerous explanations behind the origins of the name “Black Friday”. The name was said to have begun in Philadelphia in the 1960s, when the police and bus drivers used the term in a negative fashion to describe the traffic jams that formed as people headed to the sales on the day after Thanksgiving.
Businesses didn’t like the fact that it had a negative meaning when it was traditionally one of their biggest and most profitable days of the year. It was said to have become a positive term in the 1980s, when retailers began using it to describe the profitability of their Black Friday sales.
In accounting terms, running at a loss is called being “in the red”, whereas making a profit is being “in the black”. These terms came about because accountants writing in the ledger would show losses in red ink and profits in black ink.
Subsequently, Black Friday came to describe the day of the year when even struggling businesses would see their fortunes turn around and their books go back “in the black” as a result of the annual surge of shoppers.
What kind of deals are expected?
Major retailers have already announced details of what to expect this year, with Amazon revealing it will have a massive ten-day Black Friday sale. This will be the online giant’s biggest Black Friday event ever, running from 16th to 25th November.
Amazon is concentrating mainly on tech deals and bundles and has brought in some extra features on its website to lure shoppers, including AR View, which lets consumers see what a new product would look like in their own home and then buy it right away through the app.
Smyths Toys has already started its Black Friday sale, as has Music Magpie, which is offering cheap deals on refurbished iPhones, Xbox and Surface Pro. Other retailers who have started early include the Lego Store, Costco and Vodafone.
In 2017, shoppers in the UK splashed out an astounding £2.5 billion on Black Friday deals, with a further £7.3 billion spent up until Monday evening, according to the Centre for Retail Research. While 20% more shoppers than normal hit the high street on Black Friday last year, most of the spending was done online.
Last year’s best deals included Amazon offering 20% off various Smartphones and up to 31% off televisions, while Argos ran two weeks of sales, with up to 50% off selected items. All of the major supermarkets offered deals and even smaller independent retailers joined in.
Cyber Monday traditionally follows Black Friday and is a new shopping holiday. It’s described as a shopping day for people who are too busy to join in the Black Friday spend, or who don’t want to fight the crowds. People traditionally shop online on Cyber Monday.
Thinking of joining in Black Friday?
If you want to make the most of Black Friday, there’s a list of things you should and shouldn’t do to ensure you make the most of the fantastic deals on offer.
Make sure you’re totally prepared in advance and know what you want, so you’re not browsing through hundreds of items on the day. Many retailers have limited stock of their sale items, so decide what you want early, so you can pounce immediately on the day.
Also, be prepared to be a night owl! If you’re thinking of shopping later in the day, you may miss out on the best deals. A lot of retailers start their sales online at one minute past midnight. Often, the websites can crash under the sheer volume of consumers logging in to grab a bargain. The best time to shop online can be between 3am and 4am, when the initial rush is over, but there are still some great deals left.
Never fall for a scam: unfortunately, Black Friday can bring the scammers out of the woodwork. If you’re shopping online, buy from trusted retailers, pay securely using PayPal or a credit/debit card so you can get a refund and if you see links on social media that seem too good to be true, then they probably are – trust your gut feeling!
Don’t do any unnecessary spending. While there are some amazing deals on Black Friday, there’s no point in buying lots of things you don’t need just for the sake of it.
Finally, spare a thought for the couriers – the flurry of online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a knock-on effect and the couriers will have a much heavier workload than usual. As a result, it’s not unusual for parcels to arrive late – or maybe they won’t arrive at all and may go missing under the sheer volume of shopping.
Won’t be long now, folks – in a week or so, the furore will begin! Brace yourself and be prepared to shop your little socks off and when all the excitement has died down a little, we want to hear all about your Black Friday experiences, from the purchasing right through to the delivery.
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