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What is Black Friday and why it is not worth the hassle if you are a great negotiator.

All last week was hyped up by ‘Black Friday’ Sales. But what is it and why do we have it in Australia and is it worth it?

Black Friday originates from the US and is the Friday after Thanksgiving which is the fourth Friday in November. Thanksgiving is a public holiday in the US. In the 1950s people used the Friday as a sick day and went shopping to get a head start in their Christmas shopping. Eventually in the 1960s this day turned into another paid leave day or shall we say into a paid ‘shopping day’. It has become a made-up event to drive consumerism.

Many believe the term ‘Black Friday’ is used for profit making; black numbers in the ledger books; but that is not entirely correct. While this is the meaning today it meant something totally different in the 50s and 60s. According to Bonnie Taylor Blake, a researcher at the University of North California, the term originated in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia police as they saw the day as a terrible day. The city was filled with shoppers and chocked with traffic which was a real headache for the police.

The term stuck and had a negative connotation to the day which the retailers did not like. Since Friday after thanksgiving was the most profitable day of the year in retail the meaning of Black Friday was reversed to a positive one, meaning that all retailers will make ‘black numbers’ on that day.

Certainly, in the US there is no Black Friday without violence when competing for the best deals. People’s fight or flight response kicks in and they start fighting over waffle makers and TV’s, totally unimportant stuff.

One of the worst incidents happened in 2008; a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death when the doors opened, and an estimated 2,000 shoppers stormed into the store.

Wal Mart is using scarcity on some popular items to bring in shoppers with their ‘Doorbuster’ deals. This creates chaos, greed, fights and unfortunately in this case also death.

While Black Friday is an American invention it has now also creeped into Australia and the world. It started with the big brands like Amazon, Apple and J Crew introducing Black Friday to the UK in 2010 and a year later into Australia. Now it is everywhere!

Now let’s get back to the negotiation strategy and the one important question you should ask yourself:

“Do you need Black Friday to get a good deal?”

My answer is no.

Think about it, Black Friday is about making black numbers, making profits.

Yes, they offer great bargains on Black Friday they are making money; so they don’t need yours.

A skilled negotiator can get these bargains at other times there is no need for this one chance per year.

Buy when nobody is buying; buy when they need your money to make their sales.

This also means that you won’t get sucked into the hype of Black Friday and spend money on stuff that you don’t need.

I buy when I need something and go through the following steps:

  • do research and compare the market
  • set a maximum acceptance point – which is the maximum I am willing to pay
  • set an opening position and subsequent offers
  • don’t look desperate and be willing to walk away
  • There is no pressure to buy there and then; I leave my number and they can call me if they change their mind
  • Talk to another retailer at the same time.
  • Make the deal!

You don’t need to live for events like Black Friday, be smart and use the other days to your advantage.