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    Black Friday Through the Years

    Believe it or not but Black Friday has been around since the early 1960s! While it may not have operated in the way we have come to know in recent years, the foundations for it were set in the ‘60s. We wanted to take a more in-depth look at how black Friday has developed and how it continues to change.

    Where it started – 1960s

    As we covered in one of our recent blogs, ‘5 Ways to Achieve Success this Black Friday’, Black Friday originates from a term that the Philadelphian police would use when large numbers of suburban tourists came into the city to do their Christmas shopping the first Friday after Thanksgiving. People weren’t fond of the term ‘Black Friday’ and attempted to call it ‘Big Friday’ however, this never stuck. 

    It first started to gain in popularity when someone realised that if the display had a sale running, then they could expect an increase in sales. There is no record of who exactly thought of this idea, but whoever did, they shaped Black Friday forever.

    Black Friday Goes Nationwide – the 1980s

    After 20 years of its creation, Black Friday caught on with businesses all across the United States and many businesses wanted to capitalise on it too. It kept the name Black Friday as people now used it as an opportunity to get out of the red (making a loss) to now get into the black (breaking even or making a profit). It was quickly described as the day that stores could make a profit & it was named the biggest shopping day in the US.

    As Black Friday had not yet moved online, people would promote their sales in magazines, newspapers, shop windows, and other offline ways. If a business was to do this now they may still experience some success, however, they would see far more sales if they used online channels to promote their sales.

    Back in the 1980s the vast majority of people would try and take Black Friday off work so they could queue up to get the best deals possible. Due to it all being offline there is no way to view the statistics, in terms of how many purchases there were, however, we can expect them to be higher than the statistics we analyse nowadays. ABC reviewed how Black Friday was covered back in 1981 and it is interesting to hear what products were expected to sell out: 

    It continued to grow across the U.S. to the point that businesses in other countries were looking for ways to bring it to their country.

    Black Friday Comes to the UK – 2010

    Black Friday was first introduced to the UK audience by Amazon in 2010 when they were selling Take That’s ‘The Progress’ & Susan Boyle’s ‘The Gift’ CDs for just £1, at the time they both retailed for nearly £10. Brian McBride, Amazon’s managing director, was quoted as saying ‘The demand for the albums was incredible, Customers were online and ready for the start of ‘Black Friday Deals Week’, snapping up the thousands of albums that were available at just £1 in a matter of seconds. The good news is that there are more than 300 deals still to come.” Other products that were on sale as part of Amazons Black Friday’s “Lightning Sales” include: Nintendo Wii Consoles with 60% off, 60% off Flip pocket-sized high-definition cameras, Sony TVs at half price, and more than 70% off pearl necklaces

    This was a massive success for Amazon however, it didn’t take off until 2013.

    The Boom – 2013 & 2014

    Black Friday in 2013 was absolute chaos! Amazon reported that they sold 5.5 million items, with about 64 items sold per second. By this point, other businesses in the UK were capitalising on Black Friday, one of the most popular (& chaotic) stores was ASDA. Up and down the UK there were reports of altercations between shoppers & security guards because of the way people were acting! There were reports of incidents between shoppers, people were desperate to get the best deals & they would do anything to get their hands on them. Black Friday in 2013 was by far the busiest it has been, it was expected that over 25 million UK citizens would try and bag themselves a Black Friday bargain.

    2014 was also mayhem for businesses taking part in Black Friday, however, 2014 was more violent. Up and down the country there were brawls, fights, and general confrontation reported between people who were trying to grab the biggest bargain. The violence experienced played a massive part in people staying at home & trying to find the best deals online. After the scenes in 2013 & 2014 people were put off queueing up, and businesses knew this. 

    The Rise of eCommerce – 2021

    A lot of businesses realised that people no longer wanted to queue up for hours on end to try and get a TV, but instead, they wanted to be sat in bed with a cup of tea looking for the best deals. With this in mind, a lot of businesses moved their sales online & focused on sharing their sales on social media, paid ads, or organically on Google & other platforms.

    In 2021 it was reported that a massive 61% of all Black Friday purchases took place online, this equaled £9.24 billion! This is really when eCommerce established itself as the main platform for people to make the most of the Black Friday sales. 

    What Did We See in 2022?

    2022 has been slightly different. Now more than ever external factors are playing a massive role in whether or not people spend money on luxuries, of course, we are talking about the cost of living crisis. With energy bills, food prices, the price of petrol and more all rising, people are more cautious about what they spend their money on. As well as this, The World Cup has people distracted. This is the first time that The World Cup has ever taken place in the Winter, let alone over Black Friday.

    With these factors in mind, on Friday morning, the number of transactions handled by Barclaycard was up just 0.7% on the same period on the morning of Black Friday the year before.

    What Can We Expect to See in 10 Years – 2032

    It is hard to predict where anything will be in 10 years, least of all how consumers will perceive something. Consumers’ views on products change all the time depending on the latest advancements. Take technology, for example, 10 years ago the Samsung Galaxy SIII was the most popular phone, but now Samsung isn’t even the most popular phone manufacturer! 

    Having said all this, I do still believe that Black Friday will be popular. People always love to get a bargain & no matter what technology exists, this will always be the case. I do believe it will be more popular than it was in 2022 as external factors won’t play such an important role in people buying decisions.