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IR Smart Class: All you need to know about Black Friday

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An explainer on the biggest shopping day for retailers in the US that is gaining popularity in India

Bengaluru: Black Friday Sales have started picking up in India with retailers, brands and shopping malls announcing deep discounts and attractive deals. Here we give you a short lesson on what hype is all about.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is a term that originated in the United States and refers to the day after Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November (24 November this year). It is unofficially considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and many retailers offer significant discounts and promotional sales on this day.

Today, it is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, both in physical stores and online.

What happens on Black Friday?

In brick-and-mortar stores, doors often open early, sometimes at midnight or even on Thanksgiving evening, attracting eager shoppers seeking the best bargains. The atmosphere is frenetic, with long lines, crowded aisles, and a sense of urgency as consumers try to utilize the limited-time offers.

From big box retailers to single stores offer big discounts starting from 35% to 65% discounts on this day.

Additionally, online retailers participate in the Black Friday phenomenon, extending the shopping spree to the digital realm. The day has become a cultural phenomenon, shaping consumer behaviour, and setting the tone for the holiday shopping season. It’s a day when both retailers and consumers actively engage in a retail spectacle.

Black Friday has gained global prominence, with 77 percent of individuals outside the United States engaging in the shopping sales, according to a Holiday Shopping Study conducted by the pricing consultant firm Simon-Kucher & Partners.

In comparison, 89 per cent of U.S. residents participate in Black Friday shopping. The study, which surveyed 20,500 consumers across 23 countries, reveals a diverse range of shopping participation rates.

Why is it called Black Friday?

Black Friday has no negative connection or connotation, even though it consists of the word ‘black’ which is used to mark days on which are to be remembered for tragic reasons.

The word ‘black’ in Black Friday is thought to refer to retailers moving from the ‘red’ to the ‘black’. In this context, red denotes deficit and loss while black denotes profits.

In the 1950s, factory managers first started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because so many of their workers decided to falsely call in sick, thus extending the holiday weekend.

During the 1960s, the term was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.

By the end of the 1970s, Philadelphia newspapers had embraced the term to signify the beginning of holiday shopping. Throughout the 1980s, businesses wholeheartedly adopted the term to market product deals and sales, contributing to the continual expansion of Black Friday as retailers escalated their efforts to entice shoppers.

Why Black Friday is a benefit for retailers?

With the realization that substantial crowds could be attracted through discounted prices, retailers identified Black Friday as the ultimate day for shopping. Everyone in the retail business is trying to get their piece of the pie. Each store has its weapon of choice, which could include any combination of special sales, longer store hours, online discounts, gifts, and more.

Assembling nearly 20 years of holiday sales data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), it is proven that the average annual increase in Black Friday spending has been 3.5 per cent. And the total spending of the preceding year rose to $886.7 billion.

Retailers make a huge profit at this time of the year in several ways. The massive influx of shoppers seeking discounts and special deals creates a surge in sales, allowing businesses to move a substantial amount of inventory in a short period. This surge often helps retailers clear out older stock to introduce newer stock in time for Christmas.

Black Friday is about getting more traffic and sales in a short period. The widespread adoption of online Black Friday deals has expanded the reach of this retail phenomenon, allowing businesses to tap into a broader customer base beyond their physical locations and bring extra traffic to their websites as well.

The hype around Black Friday generates excitement and anticipation, drawing in consumers who might otherwise wait to make their purchases. The urgency created by limited-time offers encourages impulse buying and can result in higher transaction values.

Why Black Friday is significant in India?

In the last few years, Black Friday has also expanded beyond the United States and is observed in many other countries around the world including India. The primary reasons behind this are the increasing influence of global retail trends and the growth of e-commerce in the country.

As Indian consumers become more connected and aware of international shopping events, the appeal of Black Friday’s deep discounts and special offers has expanded.

With the rise of international brands and the globalization of the retail market, Indian consumers are increasingly looking for opportunities to access products from global retailers at discounted prices.

E-commerce platforms and retailers in India have embraced the concept of Black Friday, offering attractive deals and promotions to attract shoppers. This has led to an increase in online shopping activity during the Black Friday period.

Moreover, the timing of Black Friday, which is close to the Indian festival season, aligns with increased consumer spending. Many Indians use this time to make significant purchases, and the availability of Black Friday deals provides an extra incentive for consumers to shop.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is a marketing term used to describe the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and it falls on 27 November this year.

Cyber Monday is often viewed as the online counterpart to Black Friday. While Black Friday focuses on brick-and-mortar retail stores, Cyber Monday is centred around online sales and e-commerce.

Retailers, both traditional and online, offer special promotions, discounts, and deals on a wide range of products, with a particular emphasis on electronics, gadgets, clothing, and other popular gift items.

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