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Black Friday Comes to the UK

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Crazy Shopping

Black Friday results in out-of-control car and foot traffic.

In America, Black Friday is known to everyone. It’s when people storm shopping centers and stores around the country, gathering en masse and quite literally overrunning businesses and each other in search of bargains. While it’s been a recurring phenomenon in the U.S. for decades, in the last few years it has jumped the ocean, and is now beginning to take hold in the UK.

In America, the first recognized use of the term Black Friday dates back to 1961, in Philadelphia. Local police coined the phrase to describe the traffic jams and related problems caused by shoppers overfilling stores on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. For a number of reasons, the name stuck. Despite marketing efforts to change it to something more pleasant, such as Big Friday and Big Saturday, newspapers ran with the sensationalist title, citing police trying to control crowds of jaywalking pedestrians and non-stop traffic throughout the day. Eventually the term became commonplace, taking hold across the U.S.

In time the phrase also took on a meaning as the first day of the year when merchants were “in the black,” as opposed to operating in the red. It was recognized as the first profitable day of the year, and has since been regularly explained to mean just that, with few people remembering the original source of the term in Philadelphia.

While Black Friday is somewhat different in the UK than in America, as there is no Thanksgiving there, and so no Friday holiday immediately following it, the trend has been one retailers and politicians alike have noted over the last few years. As reported by Sky News, it continues to gain traction in UK markets.

No Thanksgiving

There may be no Thanksgiving, but there is a Christmas.

Despite resistance from some merchants and politicians, more and more stores in the UK are beginning to embrace the sales opportunities Black Friday presents. To quote personalized gift supplier Andy Smith, Director of the Keep It Personal UK online shopping site, “The personal gift industry is huge, with Christmas sales being nearly triple our yearly averages – but Black Friday has seen sales percentages increasing in double digits over the last two years.”

While the UK has contributed many things to the U.S. over the years, and we’ve sent a few of our own back as well, the jump of Black Friday across the Atlantic represents both a marketing and a sales phenomenon that appears poised to spread into the rest of Europe. This is a positive economic indicator, and one that will likely continue to bolster economic and cultural ties across the ocean.

Image Credits: Black Friday, Crazy Shopping, No Thanksgiving

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About Henry Buell

A world traveled analyst, Henry has lived through political upheaval, revolutions, and war. He writes from a different perspective, with a passion for life, tempered by experience. More information can be found on Henry Buell's website.