Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Yet it has nothing to do with Britain’s traditional January and summer sales.
This year, Black Friday falls on Friday 23 November 2018. People all over the world will be buying discounted products as retailers slash prices.
Such is the frenzied excitement over the event that in the past fights over TVs have broken out, queues have stretched far out of shopping centre car parks, and near-riots have unfolded as people desperately try to grab bargains.
Last year, the novelty seemed to be wearing off in Britain, but Black Friday is still a considerable event.
WHICH UK SHOPS TAKE PART?
Like Halloween and McDonald’s, Black Friday is another US import. Amazon is often credited with bringing Black Friday to the UK – it began offering discounts as far back as 2010.
For Amazon, the event is massive, with days of deals and a long series of changing promotions.
Asda, owned by US firm Walmart, began taking part in 2013; it’s only really since 2014/15 that it’s started being a big deal here.
These days, all British supermarkets and most big high street retailers offer some deals on Black Friday. John Lewis, Argos, GAME, Curry’s/PC World and major supermarkets get involved.
Last year, Marks and Spencer cancelled its Black Friday offers claiming that it merely ‘sucked sales forward’.
WHAT ARE THE BEST BLACK FRIDAY DEALS?
Black Friday deals are already underway for a host of retailers, and you can see in-depth, up-to-date round-ups of all the best bargains here as tey become available:
WHAT HAPPENS ON BLACK FRIDAY?
Shops reduce prices, offering discounts that are far greater than normal.
Usually the sales last for 24 hours, though some retailers extend deals for longer and over the course of the weekend.
Consumers queue for hours on end in the hope of picking up the best buys.
There’s a lot of pushing and shoving.
Although Cyber Monday (three days later, so this year it is on 26 November) also takes place – where the focus is on shopping online – Black Friday deals aren’t always restricted to stores.
Shoppers, particularly those in the UK, often prefer to trawl through websites hunting for purchases.
Websites have been known to crash in the past. Although Black Friday isn’t totally tied to Christmas, there’s definitely an emphasis on getting Christmas purchases in early.
WHERE DOES BLACK FRIDAY COME FROM?
Black Friday originated in America, where consumerism is basically a religion.
It traditionally follows the US holiday of Thanksgiving and is regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
The story goes that after US stores enduring an entire year of operating at a loss (in the red), they earned a profit thanks to a large-scale shopping spree, which in turn put them back in the black.
There may be some truth to this, but above all it’s just a big 1980s PR stunt to get people to spend lots of money.
There are also far more sinister stories harking back to slavery in the US.
The term is also sometimes used on changeover day for NHS doctors.
BLACK FRIDAY TROUBLE
In past years, there were scenes of violence and carnage as shoppers rushed to get the best deals.
There were reported fights in Asda and Tesco superstores, and chaos in larger Argos and Currys stores.
The police were called out on numerous occasions and videos of mayhem surfaced on social media.
Last year, however Britain didn’t take to Black Friday in quite the same manner.
More people stayed at home to shop online and there was also the feeling of a backlash in people here dismissing American-style shopping.
Richard Lim, head of Retail Economics, an independent consultancy, last year told i: “The novelty of Black Friday seems to be waning. Our research shows the percentage of consumers saying they will take part is lower than previous years, and 62 per cent of those who say they will take part say they will spend less.”