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Black Friday Sale is a Growing Rage in India but Do You Know What It Means?

Black Friday is considered to be the day or Friday after the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Occurring annually on November 23, the day marks the beginning of the festive shopping season that lasts until Christmas.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:November 23, 2018, 4:16 PM IST
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Black Friday Sale is a Growing Rage in India but Do You Know What It Means?
A Black Friday sale sign is displayed outside a makeup store at Roosevelt Field shopping mall in Garden City, New York, U.S., November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

After years of watching American sitcoms with zany housewife characters getting aggressive while in shopping queues, Indians can now finally experience the Black Friday sale, first hand. With the increasing penetration of American retailers into Indian markets, sellers have tapped into the buying potential of the Indian middle classes through online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, PayTM and retailers such as Honor and Sony, all of whom are hosting Black Friday Sales on Novemebr 23.

While the sale day has been steadily growing in popularity in the country, it has for long been hailed as the most profitable day for American retailers as it marks one of the heaviest shopping days in the US. Since 2015, the day has been recorded as one of the busiest shopping days in the year and since the year 2013, many retailers have started opening shop from Thursday itself, remaining open all through Friday to maximise profits. Several countries now hold similar sales. In India, e-tailers like Amazon India are offering 40 percent discounts over the weekend. Honor and Sony each are hosting their own sales. Cellphone comapanies such as Xiaomi are offering deep discounts, as well as cosmetics brands such as the Body Shop, Kiehls, Many Indians have started to actively participate in the Sale, which also managed to create a buzz on Indian social media.

But What is Black Friday and how did it become one of the biggest shopping days in the US calendar?

Black Friday is the Friday after the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Occurring annually on November 23, the day marks the beginning of the festive shopping season that lasts until Christmas. During the turn of the 20th century, the day after Thanksgiving witnessed several Santa Claus parades in the US, signalling the arrival of Christmas, the next big holiday. Many retailers such as Macy's started to sponsor these parades and started to use the day to promote new advertisements of business deals. And that is how the day came to be associated with retail.

However, the term 'Black Friday' was not used until much later. The term first seems to have appeared in a 1951 journal called Factory Management and Maintenance in which it was used to refer to the day after Thanksgiving, when many workers and employees would call in sick or take leave. However, it seems the usage did not catch on. Over the years, it was used as a general term by police officers in certain places to refer to the traffic and congestion that would appear on roads on the day after Thanksgiving. In 1975, the New York Times used the term for the first time to describe the busiest shopping day in the state of Philadelphia. However, it was still some time before the phrase gained traction on a national level.

However, after the 1980s, there was a strong consensus among US retailers that the term was, in fact, derived from a retail practice itself. Many retailers had long been in the practice of entering losses in red ink in their ledgers while profits were entered in black ink. With November 23 becoming a day synonymous with high retail traffic and profit, the explanation seemed satisfactory without the pall of negativity that the word 'black' was usually associated with, when used as a prefix to commemorate days.

In later years, many have rued that the day and the term have lost their significance as sellers like Walmart, Target and more now open shop from Thursday itself. 'Black Thursday' sales have also started to take place now and retailers such as Amazon have started giving Black Friday deals on other days of the year. However, the day has lived on as an important occasion for retailers and the power of pop culture has managed to make it an iconic part of American life.

With growing interest in the day among Indians and steadily increasing purchasing power of the Indian upper and middle classes, 'Black Friday' has the potential to become a big day for Indian retailers. Many have already been impacted with 37,000 Indian exporters selling products to American customers through online selling sites. Amazon will be selling 120 million 'Made in India' products to its overseas customers on Black Friday sale this year.

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