With Thanksgiving just two days away, the holiday season – and by effect, the shopping season – is almost upon us. That means you’ll be hearing the words ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ a lot in the days ahead, with an endless stream of mails from e-commerce websites, prices, and the percentage you save, things you should be aware of, and so on and so forth. But when is Black Friday 2016, Cyber Monday 2016, and where and when did these terms originate?
When is Black Friday 2016? When is Cyber Monday 2016?
Black Friday 2016 is on November 25, and Cyber Monday is scheduled for 28.
What is Black Friday?
The association of the word "black" with the start of the Christmas shopping season began in Philadelphia in the 1950s and 1960s, as the police used it to describe the heavy crowds and traffic congestion the day after Thanksgiving. As the use of the phrase picked up, retailers in the 1980s grafted a whole new meaning onto the first half of Black Friday.
Their tale went like this: most merchants operated on a loss through the first 11 months, and went into profit only during the holiday season, starting with the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) and leading up to Christmas. Since the old ways of accounting involved using red ink for negative amounts and black ink for positive, for them Black Friday became the day their records were now “in the black” and no longer “in the red”, a phrase still used often.
Either way, be it the crazy crowds or retailers co-opting the term, the Black Friday usage has stuck – more so in the Internet Age where a unifying search term rules the Web, from #trends on Twitter to what people search for on Google. With the advent of e-commerce though, the term has lost some of its meaning. You see, as Black Friday rose in popularity, physical retailers started seeing huge queues outside their stores on the eve or Black Friday. Most would open around 6am on the morning of Friday after Thanksgiving, which slowly moved to 5am and 4am as competition grew in the late 2000s.
Black Friday crowds and craziness
Things flipped on their head in 2011 when a bunch of shopping giants switched to a midnight opening to draw more interest, and bigger crowds. Cut to 2014 and many stores moved to 5-6pm time slot on Thanksgiving Day itself, a move that drew fire from employees who were now expected to work on a holiday. But as shopping has increasingly moved towards point-and-click, companies have started to redefine the practice.
That’s not to say the day of Black Friday has lost any of its popularity, but instead it’s grown to occupy a wider sphere – in some cases, as early as two weeks before Black Friday. As laughable as it sounds, the shopping holiday’s shift towards online has been beneficial in some ways – mainly to prevent accidents, fights and incidents that can take place in a physical space. You can even find “compilations” on YouTube of the same. There’s even a website that keeps track of all the deaths and injuries that have happened as a result. What world do we live in?!
What is Cyber Monday?
Thankfully, the Internet has helped in the rise of Cyber Monday – a push for shoppers to buy online. Where Black Friday is the day for big retailers, Cyber Monday has come to be seen as the small retailers’ sunshine moment. And don’t get confused by the name – Black Friday is still dominant when it comes to deals on technology, with Cyber Monday geared more towards small appliances, cutlery, kitchen gadgets, and fashion retail.
Black Friday in India and other countries outside US
The Internet has also contributed to Black Friday going international. What was once a largely US-consumerism event is now available to people from all around the world, since the deals reside on webpages. All of Microsoft, Sony, and Valve offer hundreds of games through their online stores around Black Friday each year, and retailers in other countries have experimented with sales around the same time on their website portals too. Google partnered with the likes of Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal in India for the Great Online Shopping Festival, before stopping the practice last year. All three e-commerce giants have continued the tradition in their own manner, with most targeting the peak period around Diwali.
In the UK, Amazon imported the tradition by offering deals on its website about six years ago. Since then, other physical retailers such as John Lewis and Argos have caught on, making Black Friday the biggest day of shopping in Britain by some estimates. The shopping holiday initiative has also entered other countries, including Australia, Germany, France, South Africa, Colombia, Ireland, and New Zealand in recent years. In India, you can expect the likes of Amazon and eBay, at the very least, to offer Black Friday deals in partnership with their global counterparts.
Black Friday 2016 looks set to be bigger than ever for retailers. Adobe Digital Insights predicts sales on the day of Black Friday will touch $3 billion for the first time, with the entire holiday season – measured as November 1 to December 31 by Adobe – expected to grow 11 percent year-over-year to hit $91.6 billion overall in the US itself.