While many now associate Black Friday (25 November 2022) with ridiculous discounts, its origin paints a grimmer reality. The American import, popularly thought to put retailers “back in the black”, is celebrated worldwide after the US celebrates Thanksgiving Day. The positive PR spin to turn this day into a family-focused event that allows consumers to save has its dark origins in human greed and speculation. In an attempt to corner the market, financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk caused the gold market crash of 1869. Swift action by then-president Ulysses S. Grant curbed the rampant economic destruction. Still, 24 September 1869 would become known as “Black Friday”.
Positive Spin Activated
While black is hardly the colour to spring to mind when one engages in retail therapy, it was adopted over time. Retailers were not keen on the gloomy imagery evoked and it took substantial PR efforts to bring it around. Though not as much as one would expect going from the below statement by author and Emmy-award-winning stylist, David Zyla:
“Retailers have little concern today with the origin of the name but have taken full advantage of its global recognition as a day to make a significant portion of their yearly sales with one-day-only and doorbuster promotions.”
To Set Wallets at Ease
In the US, Black Friday signifies the start of the Christmas shopping season. Many in South Africa expect to land significant deals through their holiday bonuses. Black Friday, therefore, creates the impression that it is intended to help families stretch their budgets a little further. Not so, with huge online retailers like Amazon able to generate demand through all-year events like Prime Day. Furthermore, more advanced marketing and analytics tools enable savvy sellers to reach consumers regardless of the day. This then grants retailers even more power, as stated by Angeli Gianchandani, Brand Marketing Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven’s Pompea College of Business:
“The term ‘Black Friday’, it goes back to ensuring that retailers would be able to finish the year in the black with strong profits versus in the red.
The lesson here is that we shop in moderation, knowing the dire costs of rampant consumerism. Yes, Big Beard Web Solutions is a business that offers web design, development, support and copywriting services. Yes, we will probably offer a Black Friday deal, but we wish to remind everyone to shop sensibly. One day of shopping mania may not crash the local economy; however, it’s still a long way from New Year’s Day and who knows what new financial challenges await in 2023.
Author: Beardem Beardsley
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