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The meaning of Black Friday

We have all seen the images in the news and on social media of bargain-hungry shoppers, shoving and pushing their way into stores and supermarkets when their doors open on Black Friday, and many people are uncomfortable with the messages that these images convey of the western world. They see Black Friday as the epitome of a society that has become consumed by consumerism, a culture of greed made up of people who don’t think twice about trampling over others to save themselves a few dollars or pounds.

Black Friday shoppers queue outside Macys
Black Friday shoppers queue outside Macy’s

This negative view of Black Friday mght well be justified, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the principles behind this annual shopping event. It makes sense, doesn’t it, to wait for Black Friday to come along before making that special purchase? Why spend more than you need to? Besides, being wise with your money is not only sensible but also essential, at a time when living costs soar and wages struggle to keep up.

So let’s reclaim Black Friday and help paint its image with a little less of the black. Let’s be kinder to the person in front of us in the queue when those shop doors slide open; let’s be more patient and polite as we wait our turn at the checkout, and let’s try not to go too crazy with our credit cards when we’re doing our online shopping. 

Perhaps, if we shop more wisely and thoughtfully on 23rd November, Black Friday 2018 will truly be a time of thanksgiving.

What is the origin of Black Friday?

According to, them term Black Friday is American in origin and dates back to 1950s Philadephia, USA. Each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, there was a football match held between the Army and the Navy which drew huge crowds into the city. It was forbidden for police officers to take that day as a holiday. Instead, everyone on the force would be kept busy trying to control the crowds out on the streets and in Philadelphia’s shops, bars and restaurants. Stretched to capacity, the police coined the term Black Friday to describe the day when, in spite of their best efforts, it was impossible to prevent shoplifters from taking advantage of the chaos. 

The idea that the day after Thanksgiving was a time when people could, quite literally, expect to be able to help themselves to a bargain, had stuck. However, it wasn’t for another 30 years, until the end of the 1980s, that  shop keepers and retailers managed to turn Black Friday into something more positive – and more legal – by offering their customers big discounts on their goods. Gradually, this annual shopping event grew in popularity until demand became so great that retailers decided to make it last for four days rather than just the one. 

It wasn’t long before Black Friday crossed the pond, having been brought to UK shores by online retail giant, Amazon, who introduced their first UK Black Friday in November 2010. Since then, Black Friday has continued to go from strength to strength, with a year on year rise in sales and an estimated spend of around £1.4 billion in online sales alone in the UK across the four days in 2017. 

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