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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 25-Nov-11


Friday 25-November-11

Black Friday, Big Deal

Today is Black Friday. Living in the UK, it's a strange name and I thought it might be something to do with historical plagues or something. But no. As Americans know, it is the day after thanksgiving. Not knowing much about it, I'm going to take a guess or two.

Being a Friday after a Thursday off and maybe late night celebrations, many take the day off. With so many off work, many employers have given up and made this a standard holiday. It's a bit like New Year's Day over here. It used to be a mass 'off sick' day so now it's a holiday for everyone.

There's also an effect with Thanksgiving. Because it is a big thing for so many, it is like a wall in the mental timeline. People think 'oh, I'll do that after Thanksgiving' and toss the to-do list over the wall, to be forgotten until after the celebrations. The same thing happens with Christmas and the New Year. Such breaks are a godsend to procrastinators and also tempts others to join in the mass putting-off.

But what comes after Thanksgiving? Why Christmas. Now, all of a sudden it's a panic of what to buy people for Christmas presents. Woohoo! It's retail therapy on its biggest scale. So now you have a Friday with everyone off and heading for the shops. Retailer heaven? Kind of. Is it about big deals or is is just 'big deal'?

The problem is that retail is a competitive business with customers who are mostly very price-sensitive. And after having lashed out on Thanksgiving celebrations, how do you get them to prise open their purses again? You could have a sale, but you do not want to run on always-low prices all the way through your main selling season. So how about a one-day sale? Big loss-leaders and still-profitable cuts on other things. It's a powerful use of the scarcity principle that pulls people back into rapid and unthinking purchases. And once they've started buying, they continue right up to the last-minuters on Christmas Eve.

The same principle is used in the UK with January sales, which start with big-bang early reductions to kick-start the retail game after the Christmas splurge. It also allows retailers to shift the stock that did not sell as well as they had hoped.


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