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It is one of the odd parts of the Christmas Season -- the name of the… 
20th-Nov-2009 05:41 am
It is one of the odd parts of the Christmas Season -- the name of the "major shopping day" going in is "Black Friday". The name, of course, is shared with a major financial scandal. A friend who works in retailing said "It's the day we hope to sell enough to get out of the red for the year and back in the black." That would mean that they were facing annual losses until the volume of this day pushed the chain into profit -- a pretty glum forecast.

Amazon's own "Black Friday" sale will start on MONDAY of next week -- because the day is successful enough that even the Internet doesn't have the capacity to record the sales. I'm guessing that more people will be shopping on the net this year just so they have time to consider whether Uncle Fred will actually WANT a motorized scale model of the crash of the Hindenburg with hydrogen gas supply extra.

What do you think?
20th-Nov-2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
"Black Friday" for the day after Thanksgiving seemed to appear about four years ago. My lioness worked in retail during the 80s and she never heard it as store-worker argot. I don't know who first applied the phrase but I don't like it; even if "black" is purely a reference to the balance sheet, the connotative meaning for shoppers and clerks is chaos and dread.

It's as if we can't have a happy Christmas unless all the retailers stay solvent, and this doesn't reflect on the "crass American consumer culture" (so the elites call it, and sniff) nearly as much as the media making up an annual narrative they can breathlessly pursue through the end of the year. On the day after Thanksgiving, someone will be injured or killed; retailers will report their numbers each week; lower prices will lure reluctant consumers (or fail to); blah blah blah.

As for what your friend said, it's true that retailers make most of their money in the last two months of the year. In the late 80s my landlord (who lived upstairs) was a savvy self-employed carpet installer who had patiently invested his profits in rental properties all over town. He knew most of the local businessmen, and he once told me that without a strong end of the year a lot of them wouldn't make it through the next.
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