Black Friday: what is it and where did it come from?

24th November 2017

Black Friday is well underway today, and with it comes a host of deals from brands big and small. But, where did the US-inspired psychological retail phenomenon known as ‘Black Friday’ actually come from? And how did it quickly become one of the most expensive days of the year?

Today, British shoppers are expected to spend an estimated £10bn, both online and in stores. According to figures from the online trade association IMRG, £1.7m will be spent online every minute alone. That’s a 4% increase from last year.

The earliest known reference to Black Friday originated from Philadelphia in the U.S.A. The phrase was used to describe the disruption caused the day after Thanksgiving Day, which is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. Since then, it has rapidly become one of the cheapest yet most expensive days in the world – with countries all around the world getting involved and companies offering great deals on products in the run-up to Christmas.

The UK has embraced Black Friday ever since US-based companies – like Asda and Amazon – introduced it to us back in 2013. Since then, more UK-based retailers have started to adopt the seasonal trend. During the Black Friday sales in 2014, police were called to a number of stores across the UK, after reports of crowd control issues, assaults, threatening customers and traffic issues. Speaking about the events, a representative for Greater Manchester Police described shoppers’ actions as “appalling”. As a result of the mayhem in 2014, Asda announced that they would not be taking part in Black Friday 2015. However, Black Friday still continues to grow in popularity every year in the UK.

mad shoppers

Despite the negative behaviour that comes with the Black Friday sales, it’s a great opportunity for companies to increase sales and clear stock before the New Year. Here are a few simple tips to help you adopt Black Friday: 

Make an enticing offer

Newfound brand recognition and a spike in sales volume can easily compensate reduced profit margins – offer big discounts on products that require less manual effort to process. 

Create a sense of urgency

Many Black Friday deals have time constraints as they fuel impulse buying – when people are given less time to decide something, their judgement can often become clouded.

Prepare your website 

If you’re taking part in Black Friday, you should utilise your website and promote your offers on it. You will likely see an increase in traffic to your website if you are offering any Black Friday deals. You should ensure you have a maintenance agreement, with your hosting or web developer, in place before the day itself in case your website crashes.

Boost sales via Social Media and Email Marketing

3.8 million social media posts mentioning black Friday were published back in 2016 – now, that’s a huge amount of online shopper to ignore. Including Black Friday into your social media strategy can be challenging, but also necessary. Be bold with your posts by using eye-catching imagery, and ensure you include call to actions.

Statistically, 3x more emails are sent on Black Friday than usual. Most consumers anticipate receiving emails with great discounts on this day, meaning they’ll be more likely to open them, so take advantage.


If you’ve not already implemented any of the above into your sales and marketing plan it might be a little late now. However, Cyber Monday (27th November) is just around the corner. Get in touch to find out how we could help your business get involved.

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