5 things you need to know about Black Friday and top Black Friday shopping tips

Will we see a repeat of these scenes as shoppers fought over flat screen TVs in 2014
Will we see a repeat of these scenes as shoppers fought over super cheap flat screen TVs across supermarkets in 2014?

If you thought that Black Friday was the name for some economic disaster caused by Brexit and the forthcoming Trump Presidency think again. Here are 5 things you may not know about the retail phenomenon which continues to grip the nation by storm. 

What is Black Friday?

It is generally regarded as the beginning of the Christmas Shopping Season in the US and now the UK with most major retailers opening very early (and more recently during overnight hours) to offer promotional sales. For those who want to avoid the crowds, there are also bargains available online during Black Friday from retailers such as Amazon, Argos and Debenhams.

When does it take place?

It is the day after Thanksgiving in the US (Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November) so this year takes place on Friday November 25th (next year it’s on November 24th). However, many retailers extend ‘Black Friday’ with events that take place over a number of days or even weeks, leading up to Xmas.

How does Black Friday get its name?

It’s complex. The first use of the term dates back to the crash of the US gold market in 1869. However back in the 1950s police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game

The ‘officially sanctioned’ story is that the name derives from the day when retail companies are supposed to move out of the red (ie. loss) into the black (ie. into profit) although that explanation doesn’t sound entirely plausible unless all firms start making a profit on the same day!

Above: Ugly scenes from 2014 as shoppers fight over bargains

When did it come to Britain?

Originally the term Black Friday was used by the NHS and police to mark the Friday before Christmas when there was the greatest pressure on the emergency services due to larger than normal groups going out drinking. However, it was first introduced by Asda (owned by US firm Walmart) in 2013 to describe the retail phenomenon.

While initial success was very limited (trade publication Retail Week described it as an ‘Americanism which doesn’t translate very well’), the following year (2014) saw riots in several Tesco stores as people wrestled and fought each other for the best bargains, particularly cheap flat screen TVs.

In 2015 Asda announced it wasn’t taking part in the event because of bad publicity, but it has since relented.

Can we expect to see the same ugly scenes this year? 

It’s unlikely, but obviously not impossible. Most retailers have taken sensible precautions to avoid fights taking place, such as increasing in-store security for the day. Some have even pulled promotions altogether fearing violence. For example Asda has said it won’t hold a Black Friday event at its Plymouth store because of concerns. You can read the full story from the Plymouth Herald here.

Our Black Friday Tips

  • Use the Black Friday deals to do a bit of early Christmas shopping. You may be able to get a bargain on something really special, so you can make someone’s Christmas without breaking the bank
  • Do your research! Have a look at some of the items you may want ahead of Black Friday so when the big day comes you are fully prepared.
  • Keep a list of all the products you’ve bought on Black Friday so that when you’re clicking and collecting you can be sure you’ve got everything you ordered.
  • On Black Friday last year the quietest period online was 3-4am. So set your alarms and get ready for the Black Friday Deals!

Customer queued for Currys PC World before the sun was up this morning, ....jpg

Some Black Friday Bargains from Currys PC World

Chris Price