• on novembre 29, 2019

Black Friday: what it is and the changes in a US-imported trend

(from New York) For weeks now, emails featuring “fantastic deals” and advertising banners with “exceptional” sales have been praising the unmissable Black Friday special offers, featuring ultra-flat, limited edition roll-up TV sets, glamorous designer’s coats and shoes at unparalleled prices, along with state-of-the-art Christmas gifts for your children and friends. Black Friday, the Friday of low-cost shopping that since the 80s has characterized the day after Thanksgiving, has in fact become a Black November, with special deals pouring in since the beginning of the month, especially on the Internet. Black Friday has lost its sheen and is “now becoming a background noise”, according to NPD market research Director Marshal Cohen: “It’s no longer Black Friday, nor Black Friday weekend or Black Friday week. In some cases, discounts started in October, while some extended the discount season until next spring.” The day on which Americans replace the red of their accounts with the black of special offers is ageing, squeezed between Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Alibaba Singles Day, and a long list of imitations that offered new labels and new group parties to consumers celebrated on laptops and smartphones, extending the market beyond American borders, exporting a day of shopping that according to New York Times fashion director and critic Vanessa Friedman, “associates selling with the ideal mood to open your wallet.”

The traditional queues in the cold early morning hours in front of department stores, frenzied hysterical grabs at the latest household appliance seen in movies or TV shows, have slowed down their pace, partly because of online shopping competition and partly because a large part of retail purchases had already been done.

According to consumer data provider Prosper Insights & Analytics, last year over 56% of consumers started their holiday shopping well before Black Friday, and had completed 24% of their purchases in advance.

According to the National Retail Federation, in 2019 consumers will spend an average of $1,047.83, a 4% increase compared to last year, thereby revitalizing large retail chains such as Macy, Kohl and Nordstrom, whose market value this year declined from 27% to more than 47%, the worst performance in the past ten years.

Black Friday shopping is also confronted with the age of climate change and environmental sustainability. Massive global protest for the protection of the planet led fashion brands such as Patagonia and Deciem to release statements against excessive consumption, calling on customers to shop intelligently and not frantically, especially after the United Nations Environment Programme revealed that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions.

Other companies, such as REI, have decided to close their stores demanding customers to go out and socialize, while the Everlane chain will donate $10 for each Black Friday order to an organization dedicated to restoring the world’s oceans.

Black Friday’s ageing process sparked off creativity thus extending opening hours, in some cases until 4 a.m., to include events such as festivals, special happenings, wine and food tasting and meetings with celebrities: a sign that tradition is hard to die and that, in the digital age, creating opportunities for socialisation becomes the added value that even shopkeepers should invest in, providing a sense of belonging and human connection, a gift that everyone has a longing for.