For not being a holiday, Black Friday is one of the most infamous days of the year, and a day most people mark their calendars for. And there’s ultimately a good reason for that: the amount of sales on Black Friday are often as ridiculous as they are lucrative. People have literally been crushed in the stampede each year of shoppers unleashed into stores when they open.
But how did things get to this point? What about the date itself spawned this price slashing monster of a day? And what are the consequences of it? That’s what we’re here to explore today.
The origin of Black Friday is actually pretty easy to pinpoint. Before the term itself was coined, stores had long tried to leverage the post-Thanksgiving weekend as time to unload inventory and jumpstart Christmas spending and gift shopping. It helped their pocketbooks for people to quickly switch gears from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and offering sales was a time-honored practice to help boost income.
This proto-Black Friday would only formalize into the singular day we know in the 90s. The name itself is owed to Philadelphia police officers who disliked having to work extra hours to manage the crowds that would gather because of a combination of store sales, weekend football games, and holiday decorations.
Since its humble beginnings, Black Friday has completely exploded in popularity, and become a billion-dollar event that has stock-market-wide implications each year for the economy as a whole. But the impact of Black Friday can also be felt closer to home. And that leads us to...
This may seem like an odd point: after all, isn’t a day devoted to sales something that’s inherently affordable? Well, yes and no. The truth is that, if they didn’t make more money than they lost with sales, stores and brands would stop offering them. Once they’ve lured you to a store with a sale, companies know that shoppers are likely to buy more than just what’s on sale and often more than they need on average.
That’s the biggest danger with Black Friday: overspending on things you don’t need. Our monkey brains aren’t great at judging things objectively, and too often we think of all sales as equally positive, and that taking advantage of them is always a good thing. But the truth is, buying something you don’t need while it’s on sale is still money wasted.
Earlier in the year we wrote a whole article on what to watch out for and protect yourself against on Black Friday. It’s very much worth a read. If you find yourself struggling with finances we also suggest considering taking out an installment loan to get you back on your feet.