Some of the UK's biggest retailers are cashing in on a US tradition, slashing their prices ahead of Christmas.
Amazon, Asda and Apple are among the companies that have launched so-called Black Friday sales in Britain - despite many consumers being unaware of the custom.
So what is ‘Black Friday?’
Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in the U.K. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many non-retail employers also observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving, giving their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate,have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time.
The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black".
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 A.M or even 4:00 A.M! This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart led several other retailers in announcing it would open its stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers.
Back in the U.K
Online retailer Amazon was one of the first companies to bring the trend to the UK. It launched a week-long Black Friday sale on Monday, which it claims "offers millions of pounds of savings on hundreds of Christmas gifts". Tech giant Apple and Asda, owned by Walmart, are also hoping to make the most of the Christmas shopping rush by offering one-day discounts of their own. More and more British consumers are becoming aware of the American tradition for the first time.
In the U.S, the tradition is kick-started by ‘Thanksgiving’ which of course we don’t have in the U.K. Today is just another day (albeit with a rather sinister name). Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, our retailers want to import this American tradition (like we do so many others).
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