Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, although many Americans are equally excited about the day after: Black Friday.
As you may know, Black Friday is a day on which retailers slash their prices substantially. If you want a cheap TV, Black Friday is the day to get it.
Unfortunately, everyone else will probably want it too, which is why the day is commonly associated with people wrestling each other and storming shops like orcs storming Helm’s Deep.
Black Friday has gradually emerged this side of the pond too (although last year’s madness has led a few retailers, including Asda, to drop their Black Friday plans), although many of us still know precious little about it.
So, without further ado, here’s a little crash course on America’s craziest day of the year!
The origins of the name have nothing to do with shopping
We’ve always thought Black Friday sounds like the name of a horror film, which makes sense given it’s slightly horrific origins.
Before it was all about bargains, the day after Thanksgiving was all about travelling home or hitting the shops in a safe, non-wrestling manner. This created almost unbearable traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian), which led someone in Philadelphia to dub the day Black Friday in the 60s.
Eventually, the name was adopted across the States. Over time, though, it became more associated with discounts than traffic jams.
An alternate explanation, although not the original one, is that Black Friday is the day retailers go from the red into the black thanks to the sheer amount of money spent.
Black Friday is actually a holiday in some States
It’s not an official holiday but some states give government employees the day off anyway. Many companies and schools will give their employees and students an extra day off too, which is why so many people end up camping outside Best Buy in the dying hours of Thanksgiving.
Spare a thought for poor old retail staff, though. As Black Friday gradually grows, many of them have to forego turkey and head into work instead.
It’s not just a Friday anymore
While Black Friday was the original day of discounts, many retailers have expanded the period of discounts across the weekend into Cyber Monday.
In fact, since 2012, Black Friday typically starts on Thanksgiving itself, with some stores opening as early as 6pm. This practice has led to the day being referred to as Gray or Brown Thursday, although it doesn’t look like shopping will become a Thanksgiving tradition; according to reports, Thanksgiving weekend sales slipped 11% last year.
It’s also likely that Black Friday won’t be the biggest shopping day of the year in a few years time, with Cyber Monday – the calmer, online equivalent – gradually becoming America’s bargain shopping day of choice.
There’s a reason people camp outside the stores
To our untrained eyes, the sight of people camping outside a shop so they can grab a few bargains seems slightly mad. But, believe it or not, retailers actually encourage it by holding ‘doorbuster’ deals.
These are the super-deals, like if we started selling a 24 pack of Dad’s Root Beer for £1, designed to get people through the doors (hence the name). The catch? There’s usually only very, very limited stock. And that’s why we see people camping and wrestling!
Keep an eye on American Soda on Black Friday for some amazing deals on your favourite American sweets, drinks and food! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Instagram for all the latest updates.