Black Friday was not spawned from great deals or mega discounts. In fact, if one were to glance at the history of the now famous day of sales that gets everyone and their granny excited, one would be quite surprised. In addition to its chaotic history, Black Friday as it now stands is still a chaotic time for those who choose to become part of the masses gunning for those deals, those items and that last flat screen TV.
Black Friday takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which itself is celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Although the day after Thanksgiving has generally ushered in America’s Christmas shopping season, the term, ‘Black Friday’ has only gained traction in recent times.
The day itself stems back to the late 19th and early 20th century when Santa and Thanksgiving parades were a large part of the American shopping culture – mainly due to department store sponsoring. The term itself goes back to a financial crises brought on by two Wall Street financiers who bought loads of gold in the hope that the overall price would shoot through the roof. However, their plans fumbled and on Friday the 24th of September 1869, the US gold market crashed and a number of Wall Street barons were left financially desolate.
The coining or the entry of the term ‘Black Friday’ into the common vernacular can be attributed to the cops of Philadelphia. In the 1950s tourists and shoppers would flock to the city after Thanksgiving for the Army-Navy football game, resulting in massive traffic jams, shoplifting opportunities and all-round chaos. The cops couldn’t catch a break during this time and had to work long hours, hence the coining of the term ‘Black Friday’ to refer to it all. In the 1960s the term went to print in the American Philatelist magazine and by the 1980s was well-known across the nation with retailers linking it to their post-Thanksgiving sales.
In the US Black Friday is popular and notorious. This day of crazy sales incites the type of behaviour that one would expect from a dive pub after midnight. In fact, while Black Friday is generally considered a day of excellent deals and bang-for-buck offers, it also has a darker side.
That dark side is the fact that death too is a part of Black Friday with each passing year regrettably bringing with it unsuspecting shoppers who suddenly find that their numbers are up. It’s a not a good look to have and while these numbers are miniscule, the fact of the matter is that there exists a small chance that death could come knocking on your door while you take in the proceedings of discounted retail items and clamour for the last smartphone on the rack. Statistically, since 2006 there have been a total of 12 deaths and a staggering 117 injuries on this day – the majority have occurred in the good old US of A while only one has occurred outside of the sates, in Ireland specifically. In terms of where most injuries and the occasional death occurs, the main locations are in-store, at the door and in the parking lot. The bulk of the injuries are found to happen in-store, with major clamouring at the door coming in second and parking lot incidents coming in at third place.
The Good News
The good news is that the likelihood of meeting your maker is incredibly low and if you consider the fact that these stats are mainly applicable to the United States, a country of more than 300 million people, it soon becomes easy to see that death and injury, while possible, is in essence highly unlikely. You’re more likely to win the a sizeable jackpot on a mobile casino game than you are to come into serious bodily harm.
Cause and Location
In case you’re wondering where the bulk of these incidents occur, pay attention, for this might influence your shopping choices in the future. In fact, it is in the opinion of this writer that online shopping might be the better and safer alternative. First on the list and making up for where 70% of all incident occur is none other than that giant of affordable retail, and what cost, who knows, Walmart. Twelve percent goes to places like K-Mart, Best Buy and other smaller retail outlets with a 2 to 3% split on stores like Toys R US, Sears and JC-Penny.
In terms of what causes shoppers to get injured and on the rare occasion, killed, first on the list is stampeding and it’s surprisingly followed by pepper spray – which to this writer’s mind says there’s a major fight culture within all this shopping chaos. Shooting is third on the list, followed by car accidents, then brawls, stabbings, robbery and lastly, merchandise.
Final Black Friday Thoughts
At the end of the day, vigilance is what’s required. Don’t treat Black Friday as simply another reason to shop. Wizen up and keep your wits about you. If you can’t do this, then rather opt for fantastic online shopping deals instead.