By Aleksa Aleksic
We were blessed by incredible discounts and cursed with terribly long queues on Friday, November 24, on what was the famous unofficial American holiday ‘Black Friday’, which was followed on November 27, by the newer tradition called ‘Cyber Monday’.
For those who are not familiar with the history behind these two special days, Black Friday became famous in print in 1966. A story appeared in an ad in The American Philatelist, a stamp collectors’ magazine, where the Philadelphia Police Department used the term Black Friday to describe the traffic jams and crowding in the downtown stores. The day after Thanksgiving always signified the beginning of the ‘Christmas Shopping Season’, retailers agreed that no Christmas advertisements would be shown before Thanksgiving but they also disapproved of the original length of this ‘season’. Originally Thanksgiving was on the last Thursday of November, as set by President Abraham Lincoln. It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt that changed it to the 4th Thursday of November in 1940 as a result to the retailers’ warnings that they might go bankrupt if the shopping season remained so short. That year, most people had already made their plans for that years Thanksgiving, being annoyed with the move of the date, they called the holiday ‘Franksgivin’ instead. Congress cleared the confusion in 1941 when they passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November no matter what.
Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Thanksgiving. The term ‘Cyber Monday’ was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman and It made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled “’Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”, so unlike Black Friday, Cyber Monday is rather new.
The final figures for Black Friday online sales came in a few days ago, and it’s another record-breaking day in the United States. In 2017, the number of people visiting stores on Black Friday and Thanksgiving fell 4 percent from 2016. RetailNext Inc. analyzed instore videos to count the shoppers. At the same time, online sales rose 18 percent, according to Adobe Systems Inc. Sales hit a record of US$7.9 billion. Forty percent of these purchases were done from mobile phones. Market research firm Criteo said that’s a 29 percent increase over last year.
Digital transactions on Cyber Monday reached a record US$6.59 billion, Adobe Insights unveiled Tuesday in its final update on the holiday weekend. That marks a 16.8 percent increase from a year ago and makes Cyber Monday the largest online shopping day in U.S. history.
One person who definitely reaped the benefits of Black Friday is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is now the richest person in the world (for the second time). On the Friday morning, Amazon stock opened up more than 8% higher than Thursday’s close, adding nearly US$7 billion to Bezos’ net worth. But thanks to a 7% spike in Microsoft’s stock overnight, it wasn’t quite enough to put him ahead of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates on Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire Rankings. Bezos had a net worth of US$89.7 billion, as of the start of trading on Friday, while Gates had a net worth of US$90.1 billion, up $550 million from yesterday. Then by 10:15 a.m. Eastern, Amazon stock had climbed nearly 2% since the market opened, adding US$900 million to Bezos’ net worth and putting him in the No. 1 spot with a net worth of US$90.6 billion versus Gates’ US$90.1 billion at that time.