OPINION: Hands up if you remember what Black Friday was like when it started? It’s been around since 2005, beginning in the U.S before it rolled out to the rest of the world like a tidal wave of discounted products.
I remember when Black Friday was regularly referred to as a phenomenon in news reports, and like the El Niño weather phenomenon, those early days caused a fair amount of destruction. People would line the streets to get into stores, and once inside – well – fistfights, headlocks, stealing from children and all-out brawls would not be an uncommon sight.
In the UK, Black Friday has pretty much annihilated the January sales with Boxing Day effectively taking its place, especially as the High Street experience continues to be a shell of its former self and customers get things done before the new year.
As the event moved online from brick-and-mortar stores, the violence quotient has (disappointingly) dropped, but you could make the argument it’s become more sanitized and predictable.
Despite being called Black Friday, deals start well in advance of the fourth Friday of November. It’s less of a Black Friday and more a Black November (with a little bit of October thrown in too).
And with the 2022 edition, I sense there’s a little more on the line than in previous years. There’s still an ongoing pandemic and while rules have relaxed, in place of Covid restrictions has come economic strife in a cost-of-living crisis and demand for components that has far outstripped supply.
Amazon has already had two Prime Day sales events this year, and at a few product launches I’ve attended since the summer I’ve heard about whispers of companies trying to get to rid of as much inventory as possible to clear warehouses of old stock so newer products for 2023 can be brought in. While people seem to be buying, it doesn’t sound as if they’re buying at the same volume as before. It’d seem Black Friday’s chief goal is to accelerate this again.
But arguably the deals aren’t as good, or at least aren’t as interesting, with many products showing up again and again. There will be some cracking deals to be found but I feel as if I could guess weeks ahead of the event which products will be promoted because I’ve already seen them on sale multiple times before Black Friday has started, or they’re just the same ones carried over from the previous year.
The PS5 may currently be one of the most searched items ahead of the event, but it’s unlikely you’ll see discounts on the console itself. Maybe reductions on already expensive bundles. The most desired products don’t often get the tastiest discounts.
The excitement and frenzy of those early Black Friday events isn’t as palpable, with the days that follow the Friday petering out. In the build-up to Black Friday, I wonder if having two Prime Day events may have tapered off some of the interest in Black Friday, as Amazon’s tactical strike means some have already got what they wanted.
The days of fisticuffs over a Blaupunkt TV are over, but I do sense that people aren’t massively fussed about Black Friday. Where once there was excitement there’s a tinge of disappointment. You don’t see those deals where it’s so cheap that you feel compelled to buy on impulse.
Are people over Black Friday as a sales event? We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks but if the deals are similar to what’s already landed then some might start to wonder just what Black Friday is good for.