Black Friday is a tradition that takes places on the Friday after the American festival of Thanksgiving.  It originated from the state of Philadelphia in 1961, but grew in popularity throughout the United States. It has now become a global phenomenon having also stretched out into our United Kingdom.

It is thoroughly enjoyed by consumers who are able to receive heavily discounted prices for items,  which acts as an incentive to buy as much products as possible in the limited time slot that is available. Yet, as once expensive goods, start to fly off shelves at a price that doesn’t seem to reflect its true value, one might assume it is a large risk for the business- an almost definite way of making a loss.

On the contrary, this is not the case. There is a good reason behind the excessive bargains. Businesses use economic advantages in order to earn a profit. Most significantly, the ‘loss leaders’ marketing strategy. This plays on the psychological aspect of purchasing an item. As a consumer, when we enter a store, overwhelmed by the various discounts, we often decide to purchase numerous items to best exploit this event, subconsciously knowing it won’t occur again for a whole year. Not only does the pressure of buying before a sale ends increase the possibility of an impulse buy, but we also forget that not all items are on sale. If you were to observe the stores discounts among the frenzy of Black Friday, you will notice, that many products are still at their full price. Eager to add it to your list, assuming you have got a deal, you have bought an additional item that, on any other day, may not have been purchased. However, a business’s primary aim is to maintain a strong relationship with consumers to ensure that they buy again. When you purchase a significant number of items from a shop, it shows that you are more comfortable and trusting and thus more likely to go there again.

However, while the nature of Black Friday has held its mark as the one time of year where chaos ensues in the battle to ‘get it before its gone,’ the true nature of this tradition appears to be fading away. The expansion of the Black Friday discounts has seen itself venture into businesses such as clothing and furniture, when at its core, this event originally promoted electronics. The rise in technology means that people prefer to shop online at the comfort of their home rather than in store. Companies announce sales almost a month before Black Friday rather than keeping sales exclusively on ‘Black Friday’. So, isn’t this better? It appears more comfortable for us as consumers. We have more choice, more convenience and more time. Unfortunately, when we feel more comfortable, as we originally felt about Black Friday, we play into the hands of multi-million-dollar businesses. We give them our time to buy a variety of more items, knowing it is less stressful. Furthermore, commoditising a tradition takes out its core nature. Because there’s something about walking down the high street, weeks before Black Friday, to be bombarded with massive ‘SALE’ signs taped across every store, that doesn’t feel right. It loses its special charm as the hype and buzzing excitement is no longer concentrated in one day, but spread out over weeks.  Black Friday no longer feels special.