Come this weekend social media channels and accounts will no doubt be awash with video content of frenzied scenes of consumers trampling each other underfoot, snatching Playstations from the hands of children and entering into in-store mixed martial arts over the last sofa bed. Welcome to Black Friday.
Following hard on the heels of a festival that itself has not been undertaken without some contention in recent years, Thanksgiving. The proposal behind Thanksgiving, that always falls on the fourth Thursday in November each year in the USA, is that it commemorates the Puritan ethos carried from England and rooted in the reformation, of offering days of fasting and days of thanksgiving to honour the Christian God.
Whilst the fasting part seems almost certainly to have evaporated across the continental United States in the sense the pilgrims intended, and some would say in no small measure, the now largely secular festival of Thanksgiving seems to revolve mainly around the dinner table, and a kind of Olympics of feasting.
Mughal Horse Tie for Thanksgiving?
From this has been birthed a kind of ‘step-brother’ festival that embodies a different though related component of Western consumer culture; the bargain hunt known as Black Friday, and its smaller, slightly smarter and more nerdy cousin, Cyber Monday.
Following Thanksgiving, many people in the USA would extend their weekends by taking the following Friday as a day of annual leave, offering retailers the opportunity to attract buyers in store with promotions and discounts, and so marking the first ‘official’ shopping day of the Christmas season. With the revolution that broadband offered for the internet merchant, an equivalent day was similarly instigated at the end of the same weekend for online sales and discounts.
Although in origin an American concept, Black Friday & Cyber Monday have expanded into Western Europe in the last half dozen years, not least because of the dominance of the USA on social media channels and the competition faced by online merchants in Europe from their American counterparts. When America sneezes, the rest of the world economy still catches the cold!
But why ‘Black’ Friday? When it comes to all things commercial, the term ‘black’ implies to be ‘in the black’, and suggests that this high point of buying activity in the USA, that has been ongoing now since the early sixties in some places, represents the point at which retailers move into profit on their annual balance sheets.
According to an alternate definition offered by the Urban Dictionary, Black Friday is the frenzied orgy of extreme acquisition that is the natural result of asking Americans to spend an entire day attempting to be grateful for what they already have.
So naturally, we are having our own Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sale!!! Not just for our American friends but for everyone, with 100 Great product lines at 50% Off.
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