When the enticing letters of S-A-L-E flash across shop windows, an observed universal reaction is to rush towards it and give in to the urge of shopping! Whether it is a stock clearance sale, a product launch discount or to hark in a new season‟s merchandise- reason not withstanding, there are always people ready to jump on the bandwagon.
In the past couple of years, in North America, the concept, „Black Friday‟, has been the busiest shopping day of the year. In terms of both foot falls as well as sales, according to ShopperTrak*, Black Friday ranks the highest.
It all began in the United States, when the day after Thanksgiving, retailers found a steep spike in sales and declared it the start of the holiday shopping season. They threw in offers and special discounts, and lured customers into a buying spree! Many believe that the name originated in Philadelphia where the day after Thanksgiving there was a heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This shopping frenzy made it a „Black Friday‟ for the police. Others say that the term originated from a long held practice of account book keepers marking losses in red and profits in black. So when shops had a lot to put “in the black”, it became a „Black Friday‟.
Competing closely with the Saturday before Christmas (known as the „Super Saturday‟), Black Friday sales in 2012 crossed a record $59.1 billion, 13% more than the previous year‟s total of $52.4 billion. These figures, shared by the National Retail Federation go on to reveal that around 247 million people shopped across North America, each spending an average of a whopping $423.66 each!
Black Friday shopping is worth a watch if you can find a perch which is not going to be invaded by shopaholics, traffic or piling trolleys! As early as 4 am, you can see serpentine lines spanning streets! Some stores that do not fall under the blue laws of America, even open shop at midnight! The Black Friday craze is so immense that some states in the United States actually declare „The Day after Thanksgiving‟, a public holiday!
Such is the magnetic draw of this shopping extravaganza that the excitement, ads and announcements begin a month in advance. Shoppers have quite a tough time figuring which deal would save them the most dough! The craze for Black Friday Sale has sometimes had a violent turn with stampedes and brawls marring it.
With the growth of online shopping, many mega e-sellers like Amazon and e-bay began to see a market for an online sale. This also proved convenient for those wanting to avoid the frenzy in the brick and mortar stores. Thus, ever since 2010, what is now being called „Cyber Black Friday ‟has been in vogue. Happening simultaneously, online purchases have become so common that sites‟ traffic increase manifold and crashes are common! National Retail Federation data reports that 27% of American consumers shopped online on Thanksgiving, and 47.5% shopped online on Black Friday last year. The trend of consumers shopping the Monday after the Thanksgiving week gave birth to „Cyber Monday‟, expanding Black Friday from one day to spread over a whole week or more!
Black Friday has spread wings over the years into the India, UK, Brazil and other countries. In India, many who were aware of this shopping phenomena, used to request friends and relatives abroad to pick items of choice. Last year, Google India‟s „Google Online Shopping Festival‟ or the GOSF saw many well known e-tailers offer plenty of attractive deals. The festival that ran for just a day (12-12-2012) saw up to 75% increase in site traffic and the sales multiplied almost up to thrice the normal amount.
The way onwards seems very promising in the world of online shopping and Black Friday is sure to play a larger role in the coming years. While at the moment, the e-tailers constitute 16% of the entire ecommerce industry, online shopping in India, is poised to expand to touch USD 34.2 billion by 2015. This year, many Indian e-tailers plan to throw open a Black Friday sale, giving a chance to the vastly expanding customer base that now indulges in shopping online.
According to a study conducted by research firm Juxt, India has over 140 million internet users. This staggering population has helped the ecommerce market in India to a 34% y-0-y growth since 2009 according to a research report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The IAMAI and the IMRB International have also projected this thriving ecommerce market to reach 629.67 billion USD by the end of 2013 from its current value at 473.49 billion USD (as of December 2012).
With many big brands like WalMart and Amazon offering „early specials‟ and „countdown deals‟ leading up to Black Friday, this year‟s sale records are expected to shoot up to unpreceding levels. Radioshack leaked a Black Friday ad with offers on the latest Kindle Fire and iPhone 5c in the first week of November initiating the Black Friday Mania and becoming the talk across internet waves.
With a buzz that gargantuan discounts of up to 80% on speakers, laptops, tablets and other electronics could be expected this year, some Indian e-tailers reveal that they are expecting a sell out of a month in merely a day!
Whether your cousin in the US is awaiting the shops to open in the wee hours or you are fighting the internet speed to clinch the best deal online, every shopper‟s dream-of-a-day is just around the corner!
The author is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of ShopYourWorld