Black Friday, Big Friday, big sales

Since the ‘50s, Americans have perfected the art of creating what is possibly the largest international shopping frenzy ever by combining two key ingredients — price-slashing and short shopping time frames.

The frenzy is widely known as Black Friday, a weekend in November full of impressive sales and deals, however; in 1961 the term was changed to “Big Friday” in an attempt to remove any racist or negative connotations to the name, but that didn’t last very long. Retailers soon picked up the term Black Friday again and it’s stuck ever since. This year Black Friday falls on November 25.

For years Canadians have flocked to the U.S. border to get in on some of the deals and action because Canada didn’t fully embrace the frenzy themselves until the late 2000s. A website dedicated to the history of Black Friday wrote that Canadian retailers didn’t officially take part in black Friday sales until 2008 in an attempt to discourage Canadian shoppers from heading south to spend their money.

Mitchell Feero, a retail worker in New Brunswick said Black Friday gets him pumped for Christmas.

“I partake because I work in retail,” said Feero. “The busyness makes it fun and really gets me in the Christmas spirit.”

Some people, like Becky Sterner from Michigan, join the flurry of shoppers just to see how wild things can get.

“I like to go and ‘people watch’ and see how crazy people can get,” said Sterner. “And of course, maybe find the occasional good deal.”

Since 2006 there have been seven deaths and 98 injuries recorded on the website The site records U.S. injuries only. In 2008 a man was trampled to death in a Long Island Wal-Mart shopping centre; trampling seems to have been one of the more common causes of injury as shoppers storm the doors of shopping centres when they open.

Dustin Day, also from New Brunswick, grew up near the border and has never really participated in the United States’ Black Friday sales.

“I haven’t really participated, I’ve bought home improvement items that I’ve seen on a good sale before [in Canada], but other than that I don’t really look for anything specific,” said Day. “I’ve never really considered it dangerous though — because I live on the border I’d like to go over and see the madness someday.”

Smart shoppers recognize that Black Friday is a great time to find deals on holiday gifts, and following these tips can help shoppers save even more.

  • Begin researching early. Since many retailers begin posting information online or send out advertisements about sale items far in advance of Black Friday, shoppers should pay attention to each retailer’s offerings so they can better co-ordinate their shopping efforts. Cross-reference prices against other stores, including both online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Establish a shopping budget. It’s tempting to go out shopping with credit cards blazing, but that may lead to overspending. Determine what you can afford and set a budget for Black Friday shopping. Establishing a budget can help you avoid impulse purchases as well.
  • Look for extra discounts. The early bird often gets the worm, but late shoppers also may benefit on Black Friday. Determine which times of the day stores are offering their biggest discounts. Doorbuster sales tend to start very early, but such sales might be irrelevant if only items you do not need are being discounted. Determine if there are any additional sales that extend throughout the day.
  • Divide and conquer. Split up the shopping responsibilities so you and your family can get your shopping done quickly. The divide and conquer approach allows you to cover more ground and ensures someone will be there to claim the best deals from various retailers.
  • Dress comfortably for shopping. Malls and department stores may be crowded and can be warm, so dress in layers so you can remove clothing if you get hot. You’ll probably do a good deal of walking on Black Friday, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Have discount codes at the ready. Many retailers now use digital apps or emails to keep in touch with customers. These same apps may enable smartphone users to search for discount codes and other coupons. Keep digital coupons handy so they can be presented quickly at checkout.

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