‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’: do we really have to do this?

Miss Thrifty11 November 29, 2013

black friday uk

In the USA they have a phenomenon called Black Friday. This is the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season over there. For Americans, it’s the busiest shopping day of the year.  So notorious are the jammed car parks, congested aisles and stampedes, there is even a website (in very poor taste) dedicated to the annual Black Friday death toll.

Then there is Cyber Monday. This is the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and is is supposed to be one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. The term was coined in a press release for an American ecommerce site in 2005. At least with Cyber Monday, shoppers don’t get crushed to death in the crowds.

This year, more than any I can remember, newspapers are suddenly insistent that Black Friday has crossed the pond and is now here to stay in the United Kingdom. Just look at these headlines, which all draw upon the same, small pool of press releases from UK retailers:

High street unveils American-style ‘Black Friday’ shopping bonanza (Guardian)

‘Black Friday’: America’s infamous shopping day crosses pond to United Kingdom (The Independent)

Black Friday hits the UK: why 29 November is bargain day (MSN)

To sum up what is happening: four big stores (two of them American-owned) are pushing the Black Friday idea hard. Maybe there are more than four stores, but the same ones are quoted in all the news articles: Asda, Amazon, Very.co.uk and John Lewis.

Asda claims to be running “earth-shattering deals” on more than 500,000 items,

Amazon has 2,000 special deals available.

Very.co.uk (the clothes catalogue that sells Holly Willoughby’s range, among a gazillion other things) is cutting the prices of some items by up to 70%.

John Lewis is discounting small electrical and audio items by up to 50%, for one day only (today).

Do four stores a new “retail phenomenon” make? I’m not so sure. Amazon has thousands of special deals available at any given time anyway. At the time of writing, John Lewis is still keeping its Black Friday deals under wraps (although check here to see if the deal details have now been released).

That leaves Very.co.uk and Asda. Very.co.uk had all its offers marked up on its website as The Big Shopping Event, and now the site is marked up with a big Black Friday box, but some deals are tastier than others. A Dyson DC24 vacuum, for example, has been marked down from £349 to £249. That’s £30 less than Dyson sell it for, but still doesn’t seem to me like the big deal it’s being out to be. However a Kenwood KM330 food mixer has been reduced from £279 to £139, which I think is a great offer: I think this is the mixer I have, and it’s sturdy and lasts forever.

I have to be honest, the Asda deals aren’t floating my boat. A 32″ flatscreen telly has been reduced to £99, but that seems to be the flagship “piece” of the sale and it isn’t clear how many of the TVs are being made available to shoppers. If you use microwaves, the Russell Hobbs microwave for £29 looks like a steal. But a lot of the Black Friday items that have leaked out are for things like lightbulbs, which are hardly going to provoke frenzies or make suitable Christmas presents.

If you are going to venture out, or onto your laptop, to clean up with Black  Friday bargains then go and do your best. But do check to see if your “earth-shattering bargains” are really living up to the name.

In the meantime, I don’t know about you but I just can’t get exciting about this whole Black Friday thing. This is partly because I think that shopping for Christmas presents is stressful enough anyway, and partly because I’m unconvinced. The event just seems like cooked-up PR fluff to me.

This is how I feel about Black Friday.

black friday uk


 …Take a tip from me, hold your nerve and hang out until just before and just after Christmas for the best bargains.


 Image credit: army.arch.


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11 Responses to “‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’: do we really have to do this?

Livesey girl says:

Hi. Soooo glad you posted about this. I saw the Asda advert last night and couldn’t believe they were trying to push the idea of Black Friday. It’s just so out of context. I just presumed that because it was an American owned company they were using the PR concept.
I have to say that I love “The Middle” episodes about Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I love the thrify sentiment!
Besides, as a person who starts her Christmas shopping in July (my hubby and both boys have December/January birthdays) I am usually done by this point so Black Friday is no use to me 🙂

November 29, 2013 at 3:31 am

Michelle says:

I’m American. I will be paying off a credit card on Black Friday. There is a sense of poetry to that. Don’t buy into it!! A lot of people have gotten really upset with retailers because they’ve opted to open around 7:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional Black Friday openings of 5:00 a.m. I have nothing against consumption. I do have an issue with people acting like complete fools, getting trampled on (and sometimes dying) for goods that DON’T LAST! It’s ridiculous. I will also be riding my bike around town. Denver is beautiful at this time of year.

November 29, 2013 at 4:21 am

I really don’t want Black Friday. It makes so sense to me. It’s not our custom. I’m quite happy with Boxing Day sales and New Year.

November 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

Moneycone says:

I’m glad UK isn’t falling for this!! 🙂

November 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Ugh. Don’t let our Black Friday mission creep come over to you! It seems like the Christmas holiday starts earlier and earlier every year. I love it in part because it let me get my husband to put up the tree early 🙂 But honestly, I rarely shop on Black Friday here in the States because the deals aren’t worth the frustration and the crazy people. Is that what UK retailers want? I think not!

November 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Well, I agree with you that we don’t nee (or want) Black Friday over here. But it is bound to arrive – we in the UK are catching up to the rampant consumarism that generates events like BF. I think we should resist by signing to a different consumer mentality; one of generousity and careful use of resources. This is why, I am signing to be part of Giving Tuesday (#givingtuesday.com if you are interested).

December 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Pauline says:

I used to have my friends over from France for Boxing Day and the post Christmas sales that were really impressive. Body Shop had great baskets that were perfect gifts if you saw your family just after Christmas instead of Christmas Day, and 1 pound pieces of clothing at H&M! Getting on the Black Friday wagon is just another attempt to have you buy more before Christmas.

December 2, 2013 at 12:06 am

Amandah says:

Ms Thrifty, you do make me laugh.
Just lurve the video clip, loooool!

December 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm

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