Black Friday, In Australia?

Nic Crowther
Wed 20 May

Today is Black Friday.

No, not the ‘unlucky’ 13th day of the month or the Victorian bushfires of 1939; it’s another occasion that doesn’t resonate In Australia so much as it does in the UK and, most notably, the US.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. This association makes a growing British attachment to the day more interesting as it seems to be more than simply a celebration of sending off a bunch of puritans to what was hopefully a quick death. Analysts have a slightly different perspective: that as well as the cultural cross-pollination over The Atlantic, it has to do with the annual sales that go with it.

For Americans, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the ‘Holidays’ and, while much of the expenditure is centred around the feast for the family table, Black Friday sees retailers throw open their doors for massive discounts that signal the start of the Christmas buying period. It’s their version of Boxing Day, and can come with as much crazed and self-conscious consumerism as our version a month later.

So, with Australian retailers feeling the pinch of a still relatively high dollar, what’s not to love about another opportunity to stimulate sales and fill the stores with people now firmly focussed on getting their Christmas shopping done now? The timing is perfect, and the sooner retailers catch on to this fact, the better.

Apple is certainly leading the way, but rather than offering discounts, the tech giant bundles full priced items with bonus iTunes cards. While this doesn’t so much count as a ‘sale’ as a ‘promotion’, it’s certainly significant from a company that gives almost nothing away for free. With the amount of retail clout wielded by Apple, surely others are watching to see the potential for their own brands.

If we can fall in love with McDonald’s, tacos and, umm… Halloween, perhaps marking another American tradition is inevitable. With spending for October and November almost flat on 2013 levels, it seems that whatever it takes will be of benefit to a struggling domestic retail industry.