Here we are! Already a few days h..." /> The holidays are national, but sales have no boundaries – French Quarter Magazine

Art & Culture

Published on December 22nd, 2014 | by Anne-Fleur Andrle Stephan


The holidays are national, but sales have no boundaries

Here we are! Already a few days have passed since the great Thanksgiving family celebration, and I hope you had the opportunity to taste and share typically American delicacies – the invincible turkey, cranberry chutney via non less delicious “Pumpkin pie.”

Thanksgiving is a typically North American festival that has sometimes even more important and symbolic that the Christmas party. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada, and thank you for the blessings of crops received during the past year. In the land of Uncle Sam, we celebrate the 4th Thursday in November while in Canada it is still “hot” when the holiday is celebrated since the second Monday of October.


Black Friday Line. Photo by Talk Android.

But, I’m not going to present Thanksgiving extensively today. I would like to tell you about a phenomenon impossible to miss if you live in North America, known as the “Black Friday”. And that Friday starts earlier every year… For example, this year, the mall next door to my in-laws opened its doors on Thursday 18h to Thanksgiving, then stay open all night and the next day.

Traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving marks the kickoff of the Christmas shopping and to boost everything, major retailers offer astronomical sales!

Why “Black Friday”? Myself I am intrigued by this question, I have just learned that the name comes from an accounting operation a bit strange. Let me explain: it would seem that at a time when accounting was held in the hand, the accounts were written in red because in deficit. During the crisis the stock market crash of 1929, it was “red” all year until that Friday. Shopping the day after Thanksgiving finally allowed to leave “red” passing accounts positive, which allowed to write in black ink, hence the term Black Friday. {But when is the black Friday in our accounts? The story does not say.}

If that was it, the excesses do not seem alarming! Except that stores play thoroughly on the fact that this exceptional day… only lasts one day. Not to be missed so. Some examples: all Walmart corner (kind of giant Carrefour for those who do not know) opened at 6 pm on Thursday night so; Macy’s opened at midnight (sort of Galeries Lafayette), etc. What is really impressive is that we are caught easily in the game of the temporary nature of such an event. So since yesterday (Wednesday evening or Thursday morning), the bravest (or craziest, it depends) pitched their tents (yes, you read that right!) to be the first to benefit from these promotional offers beyond measure. It’s a shame to have a flat screen TV for half price, we are able to give up the Thanksgiving holiday, but everyone does as he wishes.
Well it’s a little extreme you might say, but not too serious. Actually. But sometimes it can go completely at any rate.


Movie “Jingle all the way.” Photo by

Examples of derivatives, which show how human nature is… disturbed? mad? In 1996, the movie “Jingle all the way” described an amusing dramatization but also more or less chaotic than what people are willing to go to the ultimate goal “make a deal” (and possibly more, of course). Finally, the projection made by the film may have given ideas… and it’s getting worse!! This is actually the jungle !

Black Friday in figures… { & -black-friday-sales-facts. /}
♣ In 2011, 226 million Americans spent more than $52 billion over the Thanksgiving weekend.
♣ 22: the number of days before Black Friday, during which two women camped outside Best Buy to be the first to come in and bought a cheap TV.
♣ A study by RetailMeNot, 12% of Black Friday shoppers were drunk during their shopping.
♣ Less than 5%: the average reduction found during Black Friday 6000 for monitored objects by ShopAdvisor website. The days before Christmas offer much better deals than Black Friday (December 18 being the best, with an average of 17.5% in reduction).
♣ 16% vs. 50%, respectively, the proportion of clients aged over 55 years and between 18 and 24 years, who think it’s a great idea to open stores on Thanksgiving.
♣ 70% : the proportion of consumers while Black Friday is useless because there will be better deals before Christmas. {But who are the others?!}

• Long Island, NY – Walmart, 2008: An employee who had just opened the doors at 5 in the morning to let in an impatient crowd (consisting of no less than 2000 people all the same, you can imagine that in front of Carrefour?) was crushed by buyers who rushed to the products. The man, aged 34, died of his injuries. The “extreme shoppers” did not want to stop when they saw the man down on the floor considering that they had waited enough outside in the cold… Other store employees were also injured while trying to help their colleague. This is the only time there has been a death, but all the same.

• Roanoke, Virginia – Best Buy, 2006: (BestBuy = kind of FNAC digital equivalent without books) a man was recorded on camera attacking another to grab a camera.

• California, 2006: 9 people doing shopping were injured, including one old lady who had to be hospitalized when the crowd threw themselves to the ground in order to catch the coupons launched from the ceiling of the mall.

• Madison, Wisconsin – Toys’R’Us, 2010: A woman was arrested after being inserted into the line (well, she has beaten everyone) by threatening to shoot people who complain.

Finally, it makes you think the magic of the moment “being thankful for…” Thanksgiving without value judgment, we can pack on the moment, but in hindsight, is not alarming? Of course, this is the “extreme cases” which does not seek to make generalizations, but still, it is sobering.

So when I see the “Black Friday” has managed to export to Europe, I am a bit skeptical, I admit. In France, no Thanksgiving feast, but more and more brands, especially international, seeking to import this concept in France. Then necessarily, some brands take a few liberties with their cousins across the Atlantic (in fact, it looks more like early sales at the moment and much less “monstrous” in the United States), but still. We have not taken the party but the sales, yes.


About the Author

is coming from the "Far west" of France. Anne-Fleur grew up in Finistere (Brittany). Currently working in the hightech industry, she represents a French company specialized in smartglasses apps in the US. Engineer by training and based in Boston, she loves to get back to her Briton roots a couple of times a year. After graduating from the Université de Technologie de Compiegne, in France , she decided to pursue her studies in biomedical sciences at the graduate school of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo, NY. Driven by sciences and her desire to learn, Anne-Fleur hosted a radio show, "les échos de l'innovation" (literally innovation echoes) for a couple of years, offering debates and interviews, aiming to dissect misconceptions in science and technologies for the layman. Always thirsty for discovery, she loves traveling, initiating new projects and exploring the ocean, on a sailing boat or with her snorkel.

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