Black Friday. The term sounds too similar to Black Monday and Black Wednesday for my liking. The latter two are dates guaranteed to give palpitations to those who work in financial services. That’s because these names refer to Monday October 19 1987 when world stock markets crashed and Wednesday 16 September 1992 when the UK government was forced with withdraw from the European Union Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).
So when I heard the expression “Black Friday” recently, I thought the worst and that stocks and shares ISA investors were in for a miserable end to the year.
I was relieved to hear the term didn’t indicate there had been a world stock market meltdown while I wasn’t looking. Instead, I’ve found out what Black Friday is all about and I have to say, it still gives me a sense of dread and foreboding.
That’s because Black Friday is an American event that, like trick or treating, will soon be coming our way. Black Friday occurs in the United States on the Friday following Thanksgiving and traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas (shopping) season.
In many ways, it’s similar to the UK’s Boxing Day where shops have goods on sale at low prices. Well, theoretically they are lower. Like Boxing Day there’s usually a “doorbuster” big ticket item like a TV or computer that retailers advertise at an extremely low cost. They are usually sold at or slightly above cost in order to get shoppers in the store where you’ll buy more stuff at normal high margin levels. And naturally, by the time you get to the floor, you’ll find the bargain-priced TV has gone.
As with Boxing Day in the UK, people will queue overnight for Black Friday, cutting their Thanksgiving holiday – and time with their family – short, under the illusion that they can get their Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop.
The tentacles of Black Friday are winding their way over the pond and already you’ll see Amazon UK has hundreds of Black Friday bargains. Mark my words – it’s just a matter of time before it reaches our retail shores, sorry, stores.
This way, we’ll have three events in the space of three months to part us from our cash: Black Friday, the Boxing Day sales and the January sales. I don’t know if it’s that I prefer to just keep my money in my ISA or that I prefer to stay in bed on cold dark winter mornings, but I’ll be giving all three a miss! It’ll save me getting trampled in the stampede, too.