The History Of Black Friday is not so straightforward

Black Friday is a colloquial term for the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. It traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. Many stores offer highly promoted sales at discounted prices and often open very early, sometimes as early as midnight. Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005.

The term Black Friday is almost exclusively known as a shopping holiday or discount promotion today. However, the term actually has had multiple different uses throughout recent history and its meaning differs depending on what country it is used in.

In this article, we will look closer at the term Black Friday and its meaning in different countries. 

Black Friday in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the term “Black Friday” originated within the Police and NHS to refer to the Friday before Christmas. It is the day when emergency services activate contingency plans to cope with the increase in workload due to many people going out drinking on the last Friday before Christmas. Contingencies usually include setting up mobile field hospitals near City Centre nightspots. 

Traditionally, Boxing Day had been considered the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK. In the 2010s, several American-owned retailers such as Amazon and Asda began to hold U.S.-style Black Friday promotions.

In 2014, more British retailers began to adopt the concept, including Argos, John Lewis, and Very. That year, police forces were called to shops across Britain to deal with crowd control issues, assaults, threatening customers, and traffic issues. In response to incidents at branches of Tesco, Greater Manchester Police’s deputy chief constable Ian Hopkins said shoppers had behaved in an “appalling” fashion, and criticized shops for not making adequate security arrangements to ensure the safety of customers.”

Following these incidents, some retailers began to discontinue or heavily modify their promotions, with Asda stating that it would not hold all of its sales across a single day.

The United States has a different view of Black Friday

Black Friday, as it relates to shopping, was first seen in the United States. Black Friday is not an official holiday in the United States, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees. It is sometimes observed in lieu of another federal holiday, such as Columbus Day. 

Black Friday is a shopping day for a combination of reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday week-end. In order to take advantage of this, virtually all retailers in the country, big and small, offer various sales including limited amounts of “doorbuster” items to entice traffic.

In 2015, Neil Stern of McMillan Doolittle said, “Black Friday is quickly losing its meaning on many fronts,” because many stores opened on Thanksgiving, and a lot of sales started even earlier than that. Online shopping also made the day less important. A Gallup poll in 2012 has shown that only 18% of American adults planned to shop during Black Friday.

Black Friday in France

French businesses are slowly introducing the Black Friday custom into the market.] Discounts of up to 85% were given by retailing giants such as Apple and Amazon in 2014. French electronics retailers such as FNAC and Auchan advertised deals online, while Darty also took part in this once-a-year monster sale.

Retailers favoured the very American term “Black Friday” to “Vendredi noir” in their advertisements. In 2016, because of the terror attacks in Paris in November the year before, some retailers used the name “Jour XXL” (XXL day) instead of Black Friday. An alternative was brought up by some online businesses in 2018, called “French Days”, whose goal is to replicate Black Friday during the spring season (starting around the first day of May).

In Germany 

In Germany, the term “Black Friday” was registered as a wordmark in December 2013, by Super Union Holdings Limited, a Chinese company. The trademark rights were largely revoked by the German Federal Patent Court and the German Federal Court of Justice. The trademark protection has thus essentially lapsed.

Australia has a more tragic meaning of Black Friday

In Australia, the term Black Friday refers not to shopping at all but to the devastating Black Friday bushfires which occurred in Victoria 1938–39.

Ireland gets in on the Shopping Trend

2014 marked the introduction of Black Friday in Ireland. However, when compared to the United States and the United Kingdom, it’s nowhere near as popular.

Rose Balfe, from Castleknock, was quoted in an Irish Times article back in 2014. She was just “browsing” in Clerys on O’Connell Street. She didn’t think she’d be buying too much “whether it’s a Black Friday, a white Friday or any other type of Friday”.

That seemed to be the mood of most Irish consumers and retailers in 2014. 

However, since then, multinational companies such as Amazon have started promoting Black Friday sales in Ireland. According to the latest statistics, Black Friday seems to be becoming more and more popular in Ireland. 

In a 2021 article by the Irish Times titled “Irish consumers forecast to spend €25,000 a minute on Black Friday”, it seems it’s becoming bigger and bigger. 

Ireland’s alternative to Black Friday – Champion Green 

Champion Green is a national movement with a grand coalition of government, industry, business, and the public to support each other and drive the recovery of our communities and economy after the COVID-19 crisis. 

Champion Green is urging consumers to buy locally in the run-up to Christmas and turn Black Friday into Green Friday on November 26.

The Champion Green campaign aims to encourage the public to shop locally to help businesses in the community bounce back from the impact of Covid-19.

The support local campaign has launched shopper promotions and advertising to encourage consumers to think about sustainable communities and jobs and to shop online and in-store with local businesses.

If you want to know more about trading online, our team of experts are here to chat through a variety of digital marketing services.