Where Black Friday Came from and How Businesses Can Benefit from Black Friday

Sale signs in a clothing shop

COVID-19 has canceled a lot of things – but it can’t take away our Black Friday!

The good news is Black Friday will still go ahead this year. But of course, it’ll be a little different this time around.

Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, falls on the Friday after US Thanksgiving and typically lasts the full weekend. This year, Black Friday lands on Friday 27th November -put it in your calendar.

Where did Black Friday Come From?

Do you know how Black Friday got its name? Not many people do. We’re all very much caught up in the discounts, but few people know how Black Friday actually came about.

Believe it or not, ‘Black Friday’ as a term originally had no association with shopping. Instead, it was first used in reference to the financial crash of the time. Two investors, Jay Gould and James Fisk bought a huge sum of US gold and expected to gain from this investment in the future. Soon after, in mid-September 1869, the prices of gold plummeted and their investment flopped and resulted in bankruptcy.

A few years later, the term ‘Black Friday’ became associated with the period after Thanksgiving.

When did the Term ‘Black Friday’ Start to be Used to Refer to the Day After US Thanksgiving?

Evidence suggests that the term ‘Black Friday’ was first used to describe the day after US Thanksgiving in Philadelphia in the 1950s.

Police officers in Philadelphia were said to be the first to use the term in this context. They used it in reference to the huge gatherings and traffic congestions that would happen the day after Thanksgiving, when the Army-Navy football game would play.

Police officers won’t have that worry this year! England will still be in its second lockdown by the time Black Friday comes around. This means no one living in England will be queuing outside the shops this year at 6 am to get their hands on the most discounted designer handbag. No physical fights over televisions this year. Instead, more people will be bargain hunting online.

The ‘Black Friday’ Myth

During the 1980s, a myth started to circulate that the term ‘Black Friday’ actually refers to the time when retail stores started to turn a profit.

The idea was that stores were struggling financially and said to be ‘in the red’ but the day after Thanksgiving, these stores were said to go ‘into the black’ as big profits were made as lots of people spent money on discounted items. Clearly, retailers were attempting to create more positive associations for the term!

When was the Term ‘Black Friday’ First Used in Print?

The term was first used in a print advertisement in 1966. By the end of the 1980s, it had really taken off and many stores were using the term in reference to their post-Thanksgiving sales.

When did Black Friday Come to the UK?

Black Friday took off in the UK in 2010 when Amazon started dishing out Black Friday deals. Since then, Amazon has sold thousands of items at irresistible prices for Black Friday events. Lots of big retailers have since followed in Amazon’s footsteps.

3 years after Amazon, Asda jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon. Asda’s first Black Friday event was one to remember… customers were literally fighting over TVs. In a word, it was – chaos.

What about Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is a more recent thing so you might not be as familiar with this one. Cyber Monday is when you’ll find lots of irresistible online-only deals.

Cyber Monday falls on the 30th of November this year. It always falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US. Just to confuse things, it’s also known as Blue Monday.

Cyber Monday shoppers are just as crazy as those on Black Friday. No doubt, Cyber Monday will take off, even more, this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing.

Why Should Businesses Care about Black Friday?

Every business, small or large, can benefit from Black Friday opportunities.

Although some retailers decide to not take part in Black Friday, the majority make the most out of the big event.

Unsure whether to participate in the Black Friday fun? Consider these five big perks of taking part.

Build Brand Awareness

Black Friday is great for increasing brand awareness/brand recognition. Posting your tempting deals and discounts via your social channels with the Black Friday hashtag is bound to help you widen your reach and attract customers to your website and your products.

Increasing brand awareness is particularly important if you’re a small business looking to get your brand out there more and attract new customers.

Drive Sales and Boost Profits

The main reason businesses choose to participate in Black Friday, you guessed it, is to boost their profits. Enticing deals can help you reach those bargain hunters and as a result, boost sales.

For many retailers, Black Friday is extremely profitable. You can benefit hugely if you get your prices right. Remember, if your discounts aren’t tempting enough, your customers will go to your competitors, but if your offers are too generous, your profits may be compromised.

It’s the perfect time of year to promote deals on your products or services as people will be well into Christmas-mode by the end of November and will be gift-planning and no doubt stress shopping!

You might think it’s more difficult for smaller businesses to make big profits on Black Friday compared to larger organizations. But this isn’t necessarily true. It’s easier for small businesses to personalize messages and make customers feel more special. Extra touches like personalized gifts can help you build relationships with your customers. Even better, this can also encourage customer retention.

Attract New Customers to your Website and your Products

The more people that stumble across your posts and see your discounts on your socials, the better. After clicking through and landing on your site, many of these consumers may buy and then become loyal customers in the future.

For instance, after buying from you on Black Friday, these consumers may be tempted to buy from you again during the Christmas period as well as for other special occasions the following year. So taking part in Black Friday can benefit your business in the long run, not just the short term!

Shift your Old Stock

Are you struggling to get rid of your old stock? Discounting these items is often the most effective way to get rid of them. Tempting Black Friday deals can help your old stock fly off the shelves! Clearing old inventory also means you’ll have more room to dedicate to your new Christmas stock.

Thank your Loyal Customers

Discounting items for Black Friday or even offering a discount code that is exclusive to your subscribers can be great way of thanking your loyal customers. Not only this, but they’re also a great way of reminding your existing customers about your products – and why they need to buy more of them! It’s all about re-targeting!

Giving something back to customers who’ve subscribed to your mailing list or have bought from you in the past can go a long way.

Are there any Risks for Businesses Participating in Black Friday?

You might be worried about the potential risks of your business taking part in Black Friday. There are usually two main areas of concern:

  • Running out of stock – If your offers are too irresistible, you could run out of stock quickly. This is easily avoidable; get your prices right!
  • Quiet periods leading up to the event – Some shoppers wait for the discounts and won’t buy before or after the sales.

It’s important to be mindful of these risks so you can work to avoid and overcome them. Many retailers find that the benefits Black Friday bring far outweigh the potential risks.

Key Takeaways

Lots of retailers in the UK have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon in the last decade. There’s a good reason for this – Black Friday brings with it lots of perks for consumers as well as business owners. The bottom line is if you plan early and have a solid strategy in place, you can’t go far wrong.

Will you be participating in Black Friday this year? Does your business need some advice in preparation for the big event? Have a read of our Black Friday Guide for small businesses here.

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