Black Friday is nearly upon us and we all know it as a discount shopping day although there seems to be a lot of confusion about the origin of Black Friday especially when it comes to its name. To the contrary of what people think, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas!
So, let’s start from the beginning. Originally, neither the name or the day had anything to do with shopping. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday of November and the ‘Black Friday’ reference was made to the amount of traffic on the roads the day after, when friends and family are making their way back home after visiting loved ones.
Black Friday started being referred to as a discount shopping day in the early 2000s, as many Americans got the Friday after thanks giving as a national holiday. Due to this retailers saw it as a great opportunity to hold a discount day in the run up to Christmas which also unofficially marked the first Christmas shopping day of the year.
Although the Black Friday sales have always been hailed a success for retailers in the US, our American cousins have not been so lucky as shoppers. In fact since 2006 Black Friday has seen 98 injuries and even 7 deaths.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is truly awful, although the sales figures don’t lie and like most things that happen in the US, the UK wanted a piece of the action and it wasn’t long before Black Friday crept into the UK. At first it was a success. That was until the supermarkets got hold of it and Black Friday became more like the Black Death.
In the UK big retailers such as Next have been holding very similar sales, slashing prices and clearing stock the day after a national holiday for years, namely the Next 'boxing day sale'. My aunt even leaves the family party on Christmas day early every year so that she can get up early and attack the boxing day sales with a vengeance. She returns victorious with some great deals and spends boxing day hosting a family fashion parade in the front room. The boxing day sales have been a success for years and then along came the clueless Tesco death star and in my opinion, completely destroyed Black Friday for all retailers in one foul swoop.
Tesco had a blatant disregard for planning and no strategy whatsoever, it seems they decided to get all of the dated electrical stock from their failing ‘Tesco at Home’ stores and create a load of hype convincing the general public that they were getting the deal of the century. Instead they tried to get their money back on a load of old electrical stock that no one wanted and in turn shoppers will also return to spend loads on a weekly ‘big shop’ in store. Right? Wrong!
Black Friday became more like the black death in Tesco stores nationwide and more people seemed to go home with an injury than a good deal. Tesco’s reputation took a battering too and drove people away from the high streets, making the online shopping community explode into epic proportions. My prediction is that this year we will see the figures spent online double based on last year.
The death star tried to strike down their online competitors and just like in the film, the competitors became more powerful than they could ever imagine!
This year you will see people too scared to go into a supermarket and the online retailers will cash in, Tesco still have the biggest piece of the pie, although when will they realise that they need to bring some new young creative blood with new ideas into their company before it's too late?
As a company who championed looking after their customers with the Clubcard they now have no clear brand other than trying to be a ‘jack of all trades master of none’. Known as the Rottweiler of retailers who wants to rip the heart of the high streets and communities that support them, well Tesco, you wanted to create the most hype and chaos around Black Friday, be careful what you wish for!