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Black Friday history lesson

A history lesson cross-posted from a comment I made on KVR soon to be buried. Cited from memory and not in consultation with wikipedia or chatGPT.

The history of Black Friday is rather perverse.

Black Friday as a term originally entered popular consciousness coined for a day over a century ago in the stock market when trading got so ugly that some bankers committed suicide by jumping out of windows, or so the legend has it. Memorialized most musically by Steely Dan in their 1975 song of the same name on Katy Lied.

At some point (1950s-1960s?), as marketing became a more and more dominant industry, the meaning took an almost 180 degree term turn and it began to be used (likely in newspapers or trade mags) to refer to the day when retailers started turning a profit for the year. The red ink in the accounting books turned to black. It was considered a watershed day, worthy of celebration and rewarding customers with sales because for the next 5 weeks revenues were all profit, going into the most wonderful time of the year. Subject to any scrutiny, it's all sort of b.s. But don't let that stop you from opening your wallet to spend, and what is this thing scrutiny? Buy now!

From its midcentury pivot, the concept morphed through the 1980s and 1990s (with the 24-hour news cycle) into most specifically the shopping day after Thanksgiving in the United States, which was voraciously covered by TV news as this rather grotesque parody ... best illustrated by the people of Wal*Mart stooping to fisticuffs over limited quantities of cheap gaming consoles at 12:01am on Friday morning while overworked and underpaid staff forewent their holiday time off, on the most family oriented holiday in the USA. Perverse ain't it?

Then we entered the Internet, always on, era, and the frenzy grew even further to what you witness today, a global what day is Black Friday sales frenzy phenomena that starts when the calendar turns to November and ends after New Years, and has nothing to do with the original meaning and little to do with the replacement either.

Comments

  • tjatja
    edited November 2023

    I only ever knew "Black Friday" as the stock market crash on September 24, 1869 and then again 1929 (I googled and it seems, this was a thursday) and then 1989. But anyways, always massive economic crashes.

    Later, i was wondering about that named being used for some "cheap" buy days at some time in the year and needed to google when exactly that would be.

    But I am from Old Europe, which may explain that - nowadays it seems that the old meaning of the word is nearly forgotten ...

  • @tja said:
    But I am from Old Europe, which may explain that - nowadays it seems that the old meaning of the work is nearly forgotten ...

    I shared this, because I think it's important for culture to understand how terms get twisted & distorted by history. I credit Steely Dan for keeping the old meaning of the term relevant, for those who listen to lyrics, or it would really be dead.

    Apparently I left out a step in the history of the term. Was told that before the Marketing Department took over the term that it was used by police in around Philadelphia to refer to how annoying shoppers were the day after Thanksgiving. So it must have been a shopping day for decades. The term has taken on at least 3-4 different overlapping meanings in the past 150 years.

  • Things I never learned in school, lol. To me, Black Friday is stay-at-home day. Too many people who spent the previous day being thankful going out and forgetting what they're thankful for. 🤣

  • Department of War now Department of Defense. Perverse, indeed and quite Orwellian

  • Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - to get rid of old stock in time for new stock to come in, or to make people buy more than they really need. Sales etc are generally not really about being nice or doing customers a favour, even if customers may perceive them that way.

    With digital stuff, stock clearance is not an issue, so it is mainly a matter of encouraging people to spend more, overall. For people with good impulse control, who are maybe very restrained in their purchases through the year, and who properly research things and make highly informed decisions about what to buy, they are fantastic. But if everyone shopped like that it would be bad for the retailers.

    For people without that impulse control, who are buying more from a sense of fomo, they are potentially a disaster, increasing the problem of people having far more apps than they know what to do with or will ever have time to learn to use. These people are ultimately subsidising app prices for the wiser, more thrifty customers.

    Ultimately, if everyone is doing sales, then that needs to be budgeted into the regular price of the product. If there were no sales, maybe prices across the board could be lower, and buyers could make more informed decisions without so much fomo (though new app fomo would still be a problem). The other possibility though is that prices might be higher overall if there were no sales, as customers would be spending less overall, and saving more.

    It's very messy. Because as an individual, you can lose by spending money on things you don't really need and won't really use. But you can also benefit from a thriving economy. If no one is spending and the economy is stagnant, no one will have the money to buy the products or services that you yourself produce. Overall, I suspect though that the average person would be better off if there was no such thing as sales.

    This is a complex topic that would need more than just a few paragraphs to do justice to, of course. Just thinking out loud, feel free to change my mind.

  • @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - to get rid of old stock in time for new stock to come in, or to make people buy more than they really need. Sales etc are generally not really about being nice or doing customers a favour, even if customers may perceive them that way.

    With digital stuff, stock clearance is not an issue, so it is mainly a matter of encouraging people to spend more, overall. For people with good impulse control, who are maybe very restrained in their purchases through the year, and who properly research things and make highly informed decisions about what to buy, they are fantastic. But if everyone shopped like that it would be bad for the retailers.

    For people without that impulse control, who are buying more from a sense of fomo, they are potentially a disaster, increasing the problem of people having far more apps than they know what to do with or will ever have time to learn to use. These people are ultimately subsidising app prices for the wiser, more thrifty customers.

    Ultimately, if everyone is doing sales, then that needs to be budgeted into the regular price of the product. If there were no sales, maybe prices across the board could be lower, and buyers could make more informed decisions without so much fomo (though new app fomo would still be a problem). The other possibility though is that prices might be higher overall if there were no sales, as customers would be spending less overall, and saving more.

    It's very messy. Because as an individual, you can lose by spending money on things you don't really need and won't really use. But you can also benefit from a thriving economy. If no one is spending and the economy is stagnant, no one will have the money to buy the products or services that you yourself produce. Overall, I suspect though that the average person would be better off if there was no such thing as sales.

    This is a complex topic that would need more than just a few paragraphs to do justice to, of course. Just thinking out loud, feel free to change my mind.

    Me, I utilise impulse control these days for the most part. There are certain app devs I'll instabuy from, but I still haven't shelled out for Pro-R 2 since TB Reverb still does a fine job as an all-rounder reverb, Alteza is unmatched for Ambient, and Crystalline is boss for slapping on drums to create a groove.

    Just saw Module Pro has a new "Dream Pop" pack I'll get on Friday. :)

  • @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - [snip]

    At its core, your analysis touches upon the concept of inventory management and consumer behavior, a topic that was central to the work of Alfred Marshall, a pioneer in neoclassical economics. Marshall emphasized the role of supply and demand in determining market prices. In traditional retail, sales as a strategy for clearing inventory reflect Marshall's principles of supply-demand dynamics, where excess supply (old stock) necessitates price adjustments (sales) to stimulate demand.

    Shifting to digital sales, the absence of physical inventory introduces a unique dynamic. Here, sales strategies align more closely with the concept of price discrimination, a term first coined by Arthur Cecil Pigou, another key figure in economics. Price discrimination allows sellers to charge different prices to different groups of consumers for the same product, maximizing profit. Digital sales create temporal price discrimination—charging different prices at different times.

    Your insights into consumer psychology intersect with the field of behavioral economics, notably championed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their work on cognitive biases and heuristics is pertinent to understanding how sales impact consumer behavior. Impulse buyers, influenced by the 'availability heuristic' (a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a person's mind), may overestimate the benefits of purchasing discounted items. On the other hand, consumers with high impulse control might be employing what Kahneman and Tversky call 'prospect theory,' evaluating the potential losses and gains from their economic decisions.

    The notion of sales impacting regular pricing ties back to the concept of 'anchoring,' as explored in Kahneman’s work. Retailers set an initial high price (anchor), making any subsequent discount appear more lucrative, even if the final price is not significantly lower than the market value.

    Your final point on the dichotomy between consumer spending and saving evokes the Keynesian vs. Classical economic debate. John Maynard Keynes, a prominent figure in economics, advocated for increased consumer spending to boost economic growth, particularly in times of economic downturn. In contrast, classical economists like Adam Smith emphasized the role of saving and its contribution to capital accumulation and investment.

    In conclusion, your thoughtful analysis resonates with several economic theories and principles. It highlights the complexity of sales strategies and their multifaceted impact on consumer behavior and the overall economy. Delving into the works of economists like Marshall, Pigou, Kahneman, Tversky, Keynes, and Smith provides a richer, more nuanced understanding of this intricate topic. Keep exploring these fascinating intersections of economic theory and real-world practices!

  • @johnfromberkeley said:

    @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - [snip]

    At its core, your analysis touches upon the concept of inventory management and consumer behavior, a topic that was central to the work of Alfred Marshall, a pioneer in neoclassical economics. Marshall emphasized the role of supply and demand in determining market prices. In traditional retail, sales as a strategy for clearing inventory reflect Marshall's principles of supply-demand dynamics, where excess supply (old stock) necessitates price adjustments (sales) to stimulate demand.

    Shifting to digital sales, the absence of physical inventory introduces a unique dynamic. Here, sales strategies align more closely with the concept of price discrimination, a term first coined by Arthur Cecil Pigou, another key figure in economics. Price discrimination allows sellers to charge different prices to different groups of consumers for the same product, maximizing profit. Digital sales create temporal price discrimination—charging different prices at different times.

    Your insights into consumer psychology intersect with the field of behavioral economics, notably championed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their work on cognitive biases and heuristics is pertinent to understanding how sales impact consumer behavior. Impulse buyers, influenced by the 'availability heuristic' (a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a person's mind), may overestimate the benefits of purchasing discounted items. On the other hand, consumers with high impulse control might be employing what Kahneman and Tversky call 'prospect theory,' evaluating the potential losses and gains from their economic decisions.

    The notion of sales impacting regular pricing ties back to the concept of 'anchoring,' as explored in Kahneman’s work. Retailers set an initial high price (anchor), making any subsequent discount appear more lucrative, even if the final price is not significantly lower than the market value.

    Your final point on the dichotomy between consumer spending and saving evokes the Keynesian vs. Classical economic debate. John Maynard Keynes, a prominent figure in economics, advocated for increased consumer spending to boost economic growth, particularly in times of economic downturn. In contrast, classical economists like Adam Smith emphasized the role of saving and its contribution to capital accumulation and investment.

    In conclusion, your thoughtful analysis resonates with several economic theories and principles. It highlights the complexity of sales strategies and their multifaceted impact on consumer behavior and the overall economy. Delving into the works of economists like Marshall, Pigou, Kahneman, Tversky, Keynes, and Smith provides a richer, more nuanced understanding of this intricate topic. Keep exploring these fascinating intersections of economic theory and real-world practices!

    Nice work Claude / ChatGPT, role playing an economics professor 😂 🔥

    But yes, good thought provoking and informed analysis there!

  • @jwmmakerofmusic said:

    @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - to get rid of old stock in time for new stock to come in, or to make people buy more than they really need. Sales etc are generally not really about being nice or doing customers a favour, even if customers may perceive them that way.

    With digital stuff, stock clearance is not an issue, so it is mainly a matter of encouraging people to spend more, overall. For people with good impulse control, who are maybe very restrained in their purchases through the year, and who properly research things and make highly informed decisions about what to buy, they are fantastic. But if everyone shopped like that it would be bad for the retailers.

    For people without that impulse control, who are buying more from a sense of fomo, they are potentially a disaster, increasing the problem of people having far more apps than they know what to do with or will ever have time to learn to use. These people are ultimately subsidising app prices for the wiser, more thrifty customers.

    Ultimately, if everyone is doing sales, then that needs to be budgeted into the regular price of the product. If there were no sales, maybe prices across the board could be lower, and buyers could make more informed decisions without so much fomo (though new app fomo would still be a problem). The other possibility though is that prices might be higher overall if there were no sales, as customers would be spending less overall, and saving more.

    It's very messy. Because as an individual, you can lose by spending money on things you don't really need and won't really use. But you can also benefit from a thriving economy. If no one is spending and the economy is stagnant, no one will have the money to buy the products or services that you yourself produce. Overall, I suspect though that the average person would be better off if there was no such thing as sales.

    This is a complex topic that would need more than just a few paragraphs to do justice to, of course. Just thinking out loud, feel free to change my mind.

    Me, I utilise impulse control these days for the most part. There are certain app devs I'll instabuy from, but I still haven't shelled out for Pro-R 2 since TB Reverb still does a fine job as an all-rounder reverb, Alteza is unmatched for Ambient, and Crystalline is boss for slapping on drums to create a groove.

    Just saw Module Pro has a new "Dream Pop" pack I'll get on Friday. :)

    Yes I am also practising impulse control and it has also so far protected me from buying pro r2, which I would like but honestly don't need. I felt a need for a bit of retail therapy yesterday and was close to hitting the button but resisted, and feel the better for it! And yes, a perfect example of how sales l, even relatively small ones, can push you close to making decisions that in more rational moments you would not make.

  • @Gavinski said:

    @jwmmakerofmusic said:

    @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - to get rid of old stock in time for new stock to come in, or to make people buy more than they really need. Sales etc are generally not really about being nice or doing customers a favour, even if customers may perceive them that way.

    With digital stuff, stock clearance is not an issue, so it is mainly a matter of encouraging people to spend more, overall. For people with good impulse control, who are maybe very restrained in their purchases through the year, and who properly research things and make highly informed decisions about what to buy, they are fantastic. But if everyone shopped like that it would be bad for the retailers.

    For people without that impulse control, who are buying more from a sense of fomo, they are potentially a disaster, increasing the problem of people having far more apps than they know what to do with or will ever have time to learn to use. These people are ultimately subsidising app prices for the wiser, more thrifty customers.

    Ultimately, if everyone is doing sales, then that needs to be budgeted into the regular price of the product. If there were no sales, maybe prices across the board could be lower, and buyers could make more informed decisions without so much fomo (though new app fomo would still be a problem). The other possibility though is that prices might be higher overall if there were no sales, as customers would be spending less overall, and saving more.

    It's very messy. Because as an individual, you can lose by spending money on things you don't really need and won't really use. But you can also benefit from a thriving economy. If no one is spending and the economy is stagnant, no one will have the money to buy the products or services that you yourself produce. Overall, I suspect though that the average person would be better off if there was no such thing as sales.

    This is a complex topic that would need more than just a few paragraphs to do justice to, of course. Just thinking out loud, feel free to change my mind.

    Me, I utilise impulse control these days for the most part. There are certain app devs I'll instabuy from, but I still haven't shelled out for Pro-R 2 since TB Reverb still does a fine job as an all-rounder reverb, Alteza is unmatched for Ambient, and Crystalline is boss for slapping on drums to create a groove.

    Just saw Module Pro has a new "Dream Pop" pack I'll get on Friday. :)

    Yes I am also practising impulse control and it has also so far protected me from buying pro r2, which I would like but honestly don't need. I felt a need for a bit of retail therapy yesterday and was close to hitting the button but resisted, and feel the better for it! And yes, a perfect example of how sales l, even relatively small ones, can push you close to making decisions that in more rational moments you would not make.

    Precisely. I got the one thing I want to buy (the new Module IAP), and that's all for the rest of this month.

  • Setting aside the history and focusing on the psychology, I don't suffer from poor impulse control, rather the opposite - paralysis by analysis. I have tried to use app sales as a forcing mechanism to learn what differentiates one product from the next. I ask myself, "Ok, this is on sale. Do I need it? Does it overlap with what I already have? Is it the best option for what it does?" That sort of thing. I work better (i.e. more focused) under deadline; sale = instant deadline. I have learned a ton just by researching on-sale music apps with these guidelines in mind.

    This year am limiting my research to items that already made my appsliced list, but same process with the added questions: Why did I create an alert? Will it drop to this price (or lower) again in the next year? Does it duplicate what I already have on the desktop? Thus far I'm out about $8- for ios sales. Helps to have a budget and a fixed mechanism of enforcing it. I have another $25 budgeted on a gift card and then I'm done for the year. Probably also helps that I've spent hundreds of dollars in years past so there aren't many apps left that meet my criteria for purchase.

  • @LinearLineman said:
    Department of War now Department of Defense. Perverse, indeed and quite Orwellian

    Indeed Peace = Violence, he was a few years off, but still destination on track.

  • @Gavinski said:

    @johnfromberkeley said:

    @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - [snip]

    At its core, your analysis touches upon the concept of inventory management and consumer behavior, a topic that was central to the work of Alfred Marshall, a pioneer in neoclassical economics. Marshall emphasized the role of supply and demand in determining market prices. In traditional retail, sales as a strategy for clearing inventory reflect Marshall's principles of supply-demand dynamics, where excess supply (old stock) necessitates price adjustments (sales) to stimulate demand.

    Shifting to digital sales, the absence of physical inventory introduces a unique dynamic. Here, sales strategies align more closely with the concept of price discrimination, a term first coined by Arthur Cecil Pigou, another key figure in economics. Price discrimination allows sellers to charge different prices to different groups of consumers for the same product, maximizing profit. Digital sales create temporal price discrimination—charging different prices at different times.

    Your insights into consumer psychology intersect with the field of behavioral economics, notably championed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their work on cognitive biases and heuristics is pertinent to understanding how sales impact consumer behavior. Impulse buyers, influenced by the 'availability heuristic' (a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a person's mind), may overestimate the benefits of purchasing discounted items. On the other hand, consumers with high impulse control might be employing what Kahneman and Tversky call 'prospect theory,' evaluating the potential losses and gains from their economic decisions.

    The notion of sales impacting regular pricing ties back to the concept of 'anchoring,' as explored in Kahneman’s work. Retailers set an initial high price (anchor), making any subsequent discount appear more lucrative, even if the final price is not significantly lower than the market value.

    Your final point on the dichotomy between consumer spending and saving evokes the Keynesian vs. Classical economic debate. John Maynard Keynes, a prominent figure in economics, advocated for increased consumer spending to boost economic growth, particularly in times of economic downturn. In contrast, classical economists like Adam Smith emphasized the role of saving and its contribution to capital accumulation and investment.

    In conclusion, your thoughtful analysis resonates with several economic theories and principles. It highlights the complexity of sales strategies and their multifaceted impact on consumer behavior and the overall economy. Delving into the works of economists like Marshall, Pigou, Kahneman, Tversky, Keynes, and Smith provides a richer, more nuanced understanding of this intricate topic. Keep exploring these fascinating intersections of economic theory and real-world practices!

    Nice work Claude / ChatGPT, role playing an economics professor 😂 🔥

    But yes, good thought provoking and informed analysis there!

    You are really good at prompt reverse engineering.

  • @johnfromberkeley said:

    @Gavinski said:

    @johnfromberkeley said:

    @Gavinski said:
    Sales traditionally have at least 2 functions - [snip]

    At its core, your analysis touches upon the concept of inventory management and consumer behavior, a topic that was central to the work of Alfred Marshall, a pioneer in neoclassical economics. Marshall emphasized the role of supply and demand in determining market prices. In traditional retail, sales as a strategy for clearing inventory reflect Marshall's principles of supply-demand dynamics, where excess supply (old stock) necessitates price adjustments (sales) to stimulate demand.

    Shifting to digital sales, the absence of physical inventory introduces a unique dynamic. Here, sales strategies align more closely with the concept of price discrimination, a term first coined by Arthur Cecil Pigou, another key figure in economics. Price discrimination allows sellers to charge different prices to different groups of consumers for the same product, maximizing profit. Digital sales create temporal price discrimination—charging different prices at different times.

    Your insights into consumer psychology intersect with the field of behavioral economics, notably championed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their work on cognitive biases and heuristics is pertinent to understanding how sales impact consumer behavior. Impulse buyers, influenced by the 'availability heuristic' (a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a person's mind), may overestimate the benefits of purchasing discounted items. On the other hand, consumers with high impulse control might be employing what Kahneman and Tversky call 'prospect theory,' evaluating the potential losses and gains from their economic decisions.

    The notion of sales impacting regular pricing ties back to the concept of 'anchoring,' as explored in Kahneman’s work. Retailers set an initial high price (anchor), making any subsequent discount appear more lucrative, even if the final price is not significantly lower than the market value.

    Your final point on the dichotomy between consumer spending and saving evokes the Keynesian vs. Classical economic debate. John Maynard Keynes, a prominent figure in economics, advocated for increased consumer spending to boost economic growth, particularly in times of economic downturn. In contrast, classical economists like Adam Smith emphasized the role of saving and its contribution to capital accumulation and investment.

    In conclusion, your thoughtful analysis resonates with several economic theories and principles. It highlights the complexity of sales strategies and their multifaceted impact on consumer behavior and the overall economy. Delving into the works of economists like Marshall, Pigou, Kahneman, Tversky, Keynes, and Smith provides a richer, more nuanced understanding of this intricate topic. Keep exploring these fascinating intersections of economic theory and real-world practices!

    Nice work Claude / ChatGPT, role playing an economics professor 😂 🔥

    But yes, good thought provoking and informed analysis there!

    You are really good at prompt reverse engineering.

    Well, thank you haha. And I remember you saying somewhere recently that you lost a job somewhere because you loved to automate things, so I didn’t expect you not to automate such a long and thoughtful answer haha

  • @Gavinski said:.

    Well, thank you haha. And I remember you saying somewhere recently that you lost a job somewhere because you loved to automate things, so I didn’t expect you not to automate such a long and thoughtful answer haha

    So, you’re a social engineering expert as well?! Amazing!

    I really like ChatGPT for things like this. It’s like Wikipedia. Usually, a good start for digging deeper into a subject. If chatgpt’s wrong, and you dig deeper, you’ll figure it out pretty quick.

  • @johnfromberkeley said:

    @Gavinski said:.

    Well, thank you haha. And I remember you saying somewhere recently that you lost a job somewhere because you loved to automate things, so I didn’t expect you not to automate such a long and thoughtful answer haha

    So, you’re a social engineering expert as well?! Amazing!

    I really like ChatGPT for things like this. It’s like Wikipedia. Usually, a good start for digging deeper into a subject. If chatgpt’s wrong, and you dig deeper, you’ll figure it out pretty quick.

    Agreed, still really blown away by AI in so many respects. On a social level it's very threatening, but potential benefits in terms or personal growth, education etc are immense.

  • wimwim
    edited November 2023

    I need to get back to celebrating Tax Freedom Day.

    Tax Freedom Day represents the point in the year when the average taxpayer has earned enough income to cover their total tax liability for the year. It is calculated by dividing the total tax payments for the year by the nation's income and then multiplying by the number of days in a year.

    Tax Freedom Day can vary from year to year and is often different for different countries. In the United States, it typically falls in April. The exact date can depend on various factors, including changes in tax laws, the overall economic situation, and individual circumstances.

    It's important to note that Tax Freedom Day is a generalization and doesn't mean that every individual has paid off their taxes by that date. It represents an average for the entire population.

    April 24th, 2024 in the US. It was April 18th last year. 😬

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