What makes Friday black?
Black Friday sounds so disastrous. Originally it was; the first American Black Friday I can find referred first to a financial crisis in 1769, then again Sept. 24, 1869 - a stock market catastrophe. I remember graduating from college the same year as "Black Monday," another stock market crash. Now it just connotes shopping.
Will someone please tell me why retailers call the Friday after Thanksgiving "black?" If black is bad and spending money is good (at least for retailers and the economy), I don't get it. Is it being in the black, a positive bottom line?
They say the shopping season which kicks off Friday will be pretty positive, despite the fiscal conservatism which now dictates most budgets. According to a consumer survey by consumer electronics site Retrevo.com, 69 percent of shoppers plan to spend about the same as last year on clothing, shoes, accessories and household items. Seventy percent plan to spend the same on movies, music, games and books. The number goes down to 62 percent for electronics, and 58 percent when it comes to travel. That's where the biggest spending decline is expected overall: travel.
In the electronics category most will spend some. Predictably that varies by age, with young males who own an iPhone the biggest category for electronics spending. I have my own iPhone-addicted male in the house, although he isn't the young one.
Can you really get those sweet deals you want on Black Friday? While 100 percent of those surveyed said they'd stand in line outside a store in the dark to get a $200 laptop (make that 99.9 percent; count me out), a lot fewer - 66 percent - said they got the deal and item they wanted last Black Friday.
Another little tidbit may surprise you. Touted as "the biggest shopping day of the year," Black Friday isn't always. When it comes to actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday ranged from fifth to 10th busiest day. In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second. In 2005 and 2006, Black Friday actually did reach first place. The busiest shopping day of the year (for both sales and customer traffic) is generally the Saturday before Christmas.
Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who hates shopping. Sholehjo@hotmail.com