Manchester Historian

Student newspaper for the University of Manchester's History Department

Tuesday 12th December 2017 | Manchester, UK

Black Friday: A Festive Controversy

Black Friday is the day following thanksgiving, which, for years, has been associated with a shopping frenzy due to the promotion of goodswith huge discounts all over the country. It is primarily an American tradition, but is quickly being transitioned across the pond to the UK.It is a day which retail workers dread and customers dream of: shops open hours earlier than usual and consumers flock in there thousands to grab some savings.

However, discounts are not all-good news, with many shoppers fighting against each other to obtain limited stock. There have been a recorded 98 injuries and 7 fatalities over years at black Friday events, all derived from saving a little bit of money. Workers are often verbally abused andthere have been many cases of physical abuse, so much so that the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester police commented on the lack of security that shops provided, which put their staff in danger.

Huge supermarkets have even reserved their involvement in black Friday after the unpleasant proceedings of last year’s event. Asda, owned by the company with the highest revenue in the world, Wal-Mart, have decided to scale back discounted goods, as well as introducing wristbands which allow access to most popular deals, ensuring crowd control. Tesco have changed their opening hours from midnight to 5am during black Friday, in order to give retail workers ample time to prepare for the influx of customers, learning from mistakes of previous years.

In order to grasp just how big a scale black Friday is as a shopping monument, here are some figures; $60 billion was spent during black Friday weekend in the US, as well as 147 million shoppers attending. Considering the US has a population of 319 million, this is an extremely large proportion, and the number of shoppers during the festivities has only been increasing. With an average spend of $430 per consumer during black Friday weekend; it is a haven for shop owners. The UK economy is much less impacted than the US, with online sales predicted to be at £1.6bn this year.

Although the economic impact of the holiday season is still not notable enough to affect the economy to a significant extent, it does give a short-term boost. Nevertheless, discounted goods aren’t always a good thing leading to people losing control of themselves amidst the bargain hunting. It is unfortunate that often leads to a mob mentality obsessed with saving a little bit of money. Thus, the controversy of black Friday is clear.

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