Hurtling toward Black Friday

By Posted on Nov 23 2018 | By

Online and local shopping take sting out of the madness

Gird your loins. The dreaded date this year is Friday, November 23. Fittingly, it will also be the advent of a full moon. Howlin’ at the cash registers.

But before we launch into strategies to survive one of the busiest shopping days of the year, how did Black Friday get its name?

Interestingly, the first event occurred 149 years ago. And it had nothing to do with shopping malls.

The forces behind the original use of the moniker were Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, two ruthless Wall Street barons who conspired to buy as much gold as possible, drive the price up and make a killing by selling it off. At least that was the plan.

Unfortunately—or fortunately—the conspiracy collapsed on Friday September 24, 1869 sending the stock market into a nosedive and bankrupting much of the American citizenry, both rich and less so. The first Black Friday was born.

Fast forward to Philadelphia in the 1950s. A pattern emerged of suburban shoppers and tourists swamping the city in advance of the Army-Navy football game held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

Cops had to work long hours to control both the rabid shoppers and the ensuing shoplifting. It was literally a black Friday event. Years later the term spread nationwide but carried with it a negative aura.

But the term itself had appeal to retailers who conjured up a more benign meaning for the label in the late 1980s, deigning the loss of profits as being in the red and successful sales scoring in the black. The “red to black” concept took hold and Black Friday became today’s shopping extravaganza.

Thirty percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. A bonanza for retailers trying to turn a profit and consumers looking for great deals.

Keyboard buying
Remember the early days of when the naysayers claimed the business model wouldn’t prevail? My, my, the power of a determined individual. Today, Jeff Bezos is the richest man on the planet; from zero to $147 billion in 24 years.

Imagine if Jeff had asked you to invest $50,000 in his little enterprise back then. Your return on that money would have been an incredible 14 million percent. And yes, 22 individuals coughed up the $50k. Lucky ducks.

It’s helpful to highlight Amazon’s success because in 2017 consumers spent $454 billion at their keyboards. Today, online sales rival in-store purchases.

And while Black Friday conjures up hordes of shoppers clawing at each other to score a 55-inch television, millions of shoppers dodge the crowds by peacefully tapping their keyboards.

The top five U.S. online retailers are Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Etsy and Target. Expect to see tens of thousands of items on sale during the four-day weekend by these and a legion of other retailers with online presence.

Monitor the top websites two weeks in advance of Thanksgiving to learn what specials will be offered and exercise your credit card beginning on Turkey Day. You might also consider keeping some of your powder dry until Cyber Monday when the digital world unleashes a second wave of deals.

The keyboard is the easiest and most painless way to start tackling the Christmas gift list.

Going local
Regardless of the growth and popularity of online shopping, carrying plastic bags filled with goodies is an irresistible exercise for millions. The excitement of scoring a deal and walking out of a brick and mortar store with arms full of discounted merchandise can be shopping nirvana.

Dozens of Fauquier County stores will be offering great deals on a wide variety of merchandise so traveling deeper into Northern Virginia to visit malls and big box retailers is not necessary.

Our own Peeples, Marshalls, Warrenton Jewelry & Gifts, Jos. A. Banks, The Town Duck, McClanahan Camera & Sound, Carter & Spence, Tuesday Morning, Hobbies Etc, and many more local shops will be offering discounts.

Walmart will understandably get nationwide press for its deep discounts on electronics, toys, video games and other popular items. Our own Supercenter will be no exception. But balance the temptation of larger stores with the pleasure of a slower paced hunt at smaller businesses.

Thrift shops can also be a source of gently used kids’ toys, sports equipment and more. It’s a given you will not find more attractive prices on merchandise when considering a not new purchase.

If one is tempted to wade deeper into the shopping madness sans a long drive, Prince William County beckons with numerous retailers just 20 minutes away.

Swing by The Shops at Stonewall, Somerset Crossing, Virginia Gateway and other shopping centers scattered around the I-66 corridor. These venues are home to large retailers and smaller, gentler places to pull the credit card out.

And while we’re indulging in our annual buying spree for family and friends, let’s not walk past the The Salvation Army Bell Ringers without dropping some folding green in the red kettles. The Army’s 25,000 “soldiers” will collect over $130 million nationwide this season for the less fortunate.

Let gratitude be your attitude during the Christmas season by contributing to the Army or your favorite charity.

So, how best to prep for Black Friday? Start now to compile your gift list then scour the upcoming avalanche of radio, TV, newspaper and digital ads when they hit.

Plan ahead to save ahead.


Published in the November 21, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES