“THE EVOLUTION OF BLACK FRIDAY” BY REBEKAH GREEN

Black Friday is a tradition for many families post-Thanksgiving Day, and in recent years, has greatly evolved. From stores changing their hours from opening early in the morning on Friday to late at night on Thanksgiving to the surge of Cyber Monday sales, how did this all start? According to Britannica, the term “Black Friday” originates from “early 1960s, when police officers in Philadelphia began using the phrase … to describe the chaos that resulted when large numbers of suburban tourists came into the city to begin their holiday shopping.”

Black Friday

Typically, in the last decade, you could expect stores to open at about 4 a.m., but in more recent years, that has changed to late, or depending on the store, even early, on Thanksgiving night. With such great — and limited — deals, it is expected that things can get chaotic.

CREDIT: CRIS FAGA/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK (2018)

Nonetheless, Black Friday can make a fun tradition for families and friends to get some gratifying deals for their holiday shopping lists. As people studying in the public relations and marketing profession, Black Friday is a big deal to us, too. With so many great deals, how do we get the products or services that we are promoting to stand out among the crowd (while also taking safety and satisfaction into account)? Developing creative ideas, marketing in ways that will get people talking, and using all available resources to create attraction to the deals and products being promoted.  

Cyber Monday

SOURCE: TACO BELL, CASPER (VIA MAILBAKERY)

With the invention and growth of the internet, Cyber Monday is a relatively new annual event. According to blackfriday.com, “Cyber Monday” began in 2005 by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which was a term for all the online sales that occurred the Monday after Thanksgiving. Online merchants and brands wanted to take advantage of this term because they saw a potential for growth: Black Friday-type deals but consumers could remain inside the comforts of their own homes.

From “Cyber Monday” becoming “Cyber Week” for some brands and within the last year of the coronavirus pandemic, Cyber Monday has grown a ton. Since 2005, the amount of e-commerce spending has grown annually. In 2020, as an example, the spending was recorded by ComScore as $9.81 billion. As you can see from the above pictures, every industry tries to make their brand relevant as possible on such a big day of spending — from tacos to mattresses.

What to Expect this Year

With the pandemic still prevalent, brands must be cautious of heavily relying on in-person sales. It is safe to assume the distinctive lines between Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be merged more than ever. A new issue for brands to navigate this year is the significant supply chain disruptions and product shortages that exist, whose effects will eventually impact the consumer. Many stores are starting their deals even early than Black Friday: Sunday, November 21. Although, one of the earliest, has been Amazon, who started rolling out deals as early as October 4. As consumers who want the best deal, start looking now for products that are on your shopping list — the deals are everywhere!

Other Movements

In protest to Black Friday, many eco-conscious consumers have challenged the mass consumption of the days and those relating to it by calling Black Friday an alternative term: “Buy Nothing Day.” Supporters of “Buy Nothing Day” encourage consumers to funnel money back into their local economy, as well as be educated of the effects of mass consumerism on people and the planet.

Some larger retailers have, arguably ironically, gotten involved in “Buy Nothing Day.” For example, in 2020, Patagonia launched a campaign on the day after Thanksgiving, titled “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” which was ran in The New York Times. The inspiration behind the ad was that “to lighten our environmental footprint, everyone needs to consume less. Businesses need to make fewer things but of higher quality. Customers need to think twice before they buy,” especially on a day that marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and on a day in which billions of dollars of sales occurred.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the other related days are interesting to consider, especially as aspiring public relations and marketing professionals. It is a day that can bring it a lot of “success” in terms of sales, but it is also a period of time that can be viewed in a different light, depending on your perspective and priorities.

Rebekah Green is a senior studying journalism-strategic communication with a minor in business analytics. She is the Vice President of Member Relations for Scripps PRSSA and a District Ambassador for PRSSA National. Follow her on Twitter here and on LinkedIn here.

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