This article was originally published on Nov. 24, 2021.
As we finish up our Thanksgiving plates, stores across the U.S. are gearing up for the biggest shopping day of the year! Black Friday, occurring the day after Thanksgiving, has become a popular tradition for many eager to get an early start on their holiday shopping lists. Though the unofficial holiday is a time for huge sales, long lines at the crack of dawn and family fun, the rowdy event has a not-so-glamorous past.
The term "Black Friday" was first used to refer to the financial crisis that occurred on September 24, 1869. Two Wall Street investors, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, were the cause of a huge market crash that resulted from the pair attempting to hike up the price of gold. The stock market suffered a 20 percent loss and foreign trade came to a halt, causing bankruptcy across the country. Over time, the term shifted and became associated with the Friday after Thanksgiving when retailers went into the black and earned a huge profit because holiday shoppers frantically bought discounted items. Though the story behind Black Friday's name has evolved over the years, the irresistible nature of a good deal sticks even today.
A Sale Too Good to Resist
What is it about large crowds, never-ending lines and overwhelming sales on Black Friday that makes holiday shoppers fight the crowds and return the very next year for more? To no one's surprise, the excitement of scoring a bargain has a lot to do with it. According to consumer research, there is tremendous emotional satisfaction when securing an item at a much lower price than its standard value. This satisfaction is also accompanied by a feeling of achievement known as "smart shopper feelings." The study explains that getting a good deal on an item allows the consumer to feel like a smart shopper and feeds into an innate sense of pride and accomplishment. No wonder we are ready to fight at midnight for a spot in line if it means getting a new iPhone for half the price!
However, deals aren't the only motivating factor during Black Friday. Do you know that feeling like you've missed out on a huge event that everyone is talking about? Turns out Black Friday FOMO is all too real. FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, refers to a psychological phenomenon where individuals fret that they are not being included and are out of the loop out on an exciting social event. Black Friday creates the perfect opportunity to capitalize on feelings of FOMO by marketing "exclusive" and "limited-time offers" that lure people into venturing out for the night.
Whether you're a thrill-seeker looking to knock items off of your Christmas list or are simply escaping your family to bury yourself amongst the masses, take note that this year's Black Friday may look different. The pandemic has changed the way we shop over the course of the past year. In 2020, online shopping on Black Friday surged nearly 22 percent with around $9 billion spent on the web. Black Friday is back, but online shopping is still expected to take the lead. Regardless, there remain thousands who are eager to grab the limited sales. The National Retail Federation anticipated nearly 2 million more people in 2021 to shop between Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
If you can't resist a sale this Black Friday, be safe and happy shopping!