The words 'Black Friday' seem to have taken over many parts of the internet. But most people who live outside the US are unlikely to know what the day means or stands for. However, interest continues to grow in Black Friday as it slowly spreads across the globe.
Here is a quick explainer:
What is Black Friday?
It is considered the begging of the festival shopping season in the US, which stretches all the way till Christmas.
When is it?
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day, which is the fourth Tuesday of November. In 2017, Black Friday is on November 24.
Is it a religious or cultural event?
It has nothing to do with religion. And, it didn't begin as a cultural event either. It began as a purely commercial enterprise, aimed at getting people to spend more on products ahead of festivals like Christmas, where presents play a central role. It has now become a highly visible part of the American cultural calendar.
How is it celebrated?
All major retailers announce massive sales, with huge discounts on nearly every product in their shelves. The idea is to increase sales volumes. It also becomes easier for sellers to advertise and promote sales concentrated on one day, rather than across a longer period of time. To maximise their sales, retailers tend to open shop earlier and stay open later.
Why is it a big event?
Part of the idea is to raise demand for products by creating pressure on consumers to try and purchase things at discounted rates. Consumers tend to line up outside stores, sometimes overnight, to try and ensure they get their hands on products before they are sold out.
Why is it called Black Friday?
There is no consensus on why. One theory says it was a term given to the day by local police because it meant traffic jams and crowding at stores. Another theory says it was coined by employers as many employees would call in sick the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, so they could get a four-day weekend. Yet another theory suggests retailers would be able to make profits on that day, putting their store's sales figures from the red, signifying loss, into the black (making a profit).
Does it happen only in the US?
Like we said, there is nothing religious or truly cultural about it. Black Friday in essence is little more than a one-day sale campaign. Naturally then, it is being replicated in different forms across the world. Similar campaigns may happen on different days in different countries.
So, it's just a harmless day-long sale?
Nope. It can be harmful. There have been years when Black Friday has witnessed significant amounts of violence. If it has not been shoppers fighting one another or store staff, it has been security personnel opening fire or people getting killed in stampedes. Yes, you read that right, killed.
Is the Black Friday phenomenon getting bigger each year?
Not actually. E-commerce is a major threat to the buy-it-on-one-day-at-one-place model of Black Friday. An increasing number of people are shopping online reduced prices. This is creating less pressure on consumers to buy stuff in real-life stores. Huge online shopping festivals have also taken their toll. Plus, many shoppers are now choosing to wait a little longer, so that the stocks of Black Friday are sold out and newer, Christmas-themed products come into stock.