Our attraction to valuable material goods seems to be deep routed. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and statistics show that the event is only becoming bigger, more frantic and ever more fanatical.
Black Friday may seem a rather new concept to us – the scuffles, the arrests, the stand-offs between customers and shop workers as people dive for their life to secure the latest mod-con or the best deal on the newest technology. Yet Black Friday has been evolving for many decades now. In the year of 1848, a man stood at the side of a river near present day Sacramento building a sawmill when he came across a piece of glowing metal embedded within the earth. As he scraped away at the soil surrounding it, he soon discovered his first ever piece of gold. Within days the rumours of the builder’s discovery circulated around the nearby towns who were at the time, subject to great levels of poverty. As word spread tens of thousands of people flocked to the area to search for the gold. Ships, towns, small businesses and homes were abandoned as whole villages became deserted in the great search for a portion of wealth, falling crazed for the supposed “gold fever”. In just over 12 months, San Francisco transformed from a poor, disease ridden shanty town of just 79 buildings to a city filled with tens of thousands of civilians, leading to a further 300 000 gold seekers who came to California within the following few years.
This year hundreds of thousands of shoppers are expected to hit the high streets to fight it out for the best bargains of the year on the day that is notorious for the “over-enthusiastic shopper”. The original American event which falls on the following Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States has been regarded as the premature Christmas shopping season since the early 2000s. The Black Friday name was given to the days which followed Thanksgiving which described the chaos associated with heavy traffic and pedestrian disruptions that followed the national holiday, yet the term now signifies the period of time where shops are either opened early or kept open throughout the night to accommodate the huge demand for customers in search of the best sale opportunities whether that be computers, electrical equipment, leisure faculties or social gadgets.
Black Friday now symbolises the phenomenon where shoppers are commonly seen camping outside of stores in order to secure their position in the front of the queues in time for the opening of the stores. As statistics are set to rise again this year, expectations are likely to be met of supermarket brawls, health and safety failures and website crashes.