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The History Of Black Friday & How To Survive It

Once upon a time, America followed Europe with regards to fashion, politics, technology and so on, but in more recent times, this tradition has seen the roles reversed. America now lead the world in most forms of thought process and, increasingly, commercial thinking.

What is Black Friday?

The term ‘Black Friday’ was first coined in 1961, in Philadelphia, where it was used by the police to describe the heavy traffic and pedestrian footfall on the day following Thanksgiving.  It has also been used to describe the day after Thanksgiving in terms of people calling in sick for work!  

So what does this have to do with e-commerce, retail or marketing, in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving?

The history of Black Friday here in the UK often referred to the last Friday before Christmas – a day when emergency services struggled to cope with everybody going out drinking and most often was referred to as Black Eye Friday!

Growing up for most of us, Boxing Day was by far the busiest shopping day of the year. Countless stores would start sales on this day to drive even more transactions through the tills – people spending gift vouchers and money from family members sent as gifts, and traditionally the busiest time of the year for the furniture, kitchen and DIY industries.

Around 2010 though, everything changed.

The world decided to follow America to keep up with the US businesses that were increasingly able to sell to a UK-based online marketplace.  When US-based companies, like Amazon and Asda, started to hold Black Friday promotions, UK-based companies were forced to follow suit.

In 2014, during sales at the likes of Argos, Very, Tesco and John Lewis, police were called to shops across Britain to deal with crowd control issues and assaults as we descended into a buying frenzy.

Due to pandemic closures and the increase in online shopping in more recent times, fights in the aisles will hopefully be reduced to a minimum and we can now look to embrace the new meaning of the term Black Friday as a time when most businesses can see their accounts turn from red to black as we advance into the festive season.

How can I use ‘Black Friday’ to boost my sales?

In 2019, Black Friday online sales smashed any previous records, rising to $7.4 billion (£5.35 billion) – a rise of $1.2 billion (£865.5 million) on the previous year. 

So, how do we go about getting a piece of the action?

  • Scheduled selling – change the offering throughout the day – change your homepage banner as the offers change and encourage customers to return.
  • Gift ideas blogging – in the lead up to the day, create a Gift Guide for people searching for a gift for a family member or friend when they don’t know what to buy.
  • Free gift/voucher with every purchase – a small add-on that will drive repeat business or a voucher to encourage people to come back to the site once the sale has finished.
  • Increase the timescale – extending the sale throughout the weekend to Cyber Monday or starting earlier can help you to be noticed.
  • Email, email, email! – contacting previous and potential customers with different offers is a surefire way to drive traffic and revenue.
  • Sneak peeks – a big structured social media drive in the weeks leading up to the event to let your customers know what to expect.

If you would like to learn more about the best ways to survive in an increasingly online world, contact us today for more information.

And best of luck!