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:
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.
…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.