See Black Friday in the Cambridge Business English Dictionary.
What is it?
This term has been used in the United States for the last few years to refer to the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving always takes place on the fourth Thursday of November and the Friday following it is almost regarded as well as a public holiday. Many offices and schools are closed and it is seen as the kick-off to the holiday shopping period, with many stores offering discount prices to encourage shoppers in. Unlike the original name which referred to a stock market crash in 1869, “Black Friday” is now seen as an indicator of how well retailers will do for the season. The name “Black Friday” derived from the fact that retailers earn enough to put themselves “in the black.” The day has become so important that there are now a number of websites dispensing advice to consumers on how to make the most of the day.
Originally Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of November. However, this sometimes meant that the holiday fell in the fifth week of the month leading to a shorter holiday shopping period. For this reason, in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November ensuring the longer shopping season.
Why is it in the news?
“Black Friday” has traditionally been the most important day for retail sales which represent an important economic indicator and are watched closely by investors on Wall Street. Discretionary spending, or how much consumers spend on non-essential items, is generally seen as an indicator of the state of the economy. When consumer spending grows, the economy normally expands leading to gains in other sectors such as manufacturing, transport and so on. Therefore, retail figures are extremely important when looking at the business cycle and the general state of the economy.
How can I use it in class?
Have students match these sentence halves together.
1 At 5 a.m. a young shopper
2 The stores say that
3 Black Friday is considered
4 There were about 7,000 people
5 A Sony Vaio laptop was
6 E-readers seem to be
7 After a 3.9 percent drop in 2008,
8 In 2009 Black Friday
9 In the U.S., consumer spending
10 Many stores tempt customers
|a the biggest shopping day of the year. |
b with great deals on this day.
c outside Macy’s at 4 a.m. waiting for the store to open.
d makes up 70 percent of the economy.
e sales are predicted to rise by 2.3 percent in 2010.
f brought in the highest sales revenues of the year.
g one of the special deals at an electronics store.
h in demand this year.
i began to open packages of printers at Walmart.
j they feel optimistic about the sales figures.
Give students the article from Bloomberg News, “U.S. Black Friday Shoppers Chase Deals at Best Buy, Sears”. First ask them to discuss what they think the article will be about based on the sentences above. Then ask them to read the article. Students can then discuss the following vocabulary words:
pallet aisles merchandise flagship store bellwether
sales associates doorbuster rebound in spending
- Ask students to discuss these questions in pairs or small groups.
- Is this similar to shopping customs in your country? When is the most important shopping season?
- Is it a good idea to have days like “Black Friday” when many people are off work and have time to shop?
- Why is consumer spending important for the economy?
- Do you think it is good business to offer special deals to get consumers into your store? Why or why not? Is the doorbuster concept used in your country? Have you had personal experiences with this?
Where can I read about it?
U.S. Black Friday Shoppers Chase Deals at Best Buy, Sears. Bloomberg, November 26th 2010.
Black Friday and the Importance of Retail Sales. About.com:stocks, November 26th 2010.
Black Friday 2010: Deals, tips, news and advice. USA Today, November 19th 2010.
1 i, 2 j, 3 a, 4 c, 5 g, 6 h, 7 e, 8 f, 9 d, 10 b
pallet – a portable platform used for storing and transporting goods
aisles – the area between displays in a store
merchandise – items for sale
flagship store – the most important in a group of stores – it may be the first one or the one found in the most prominent location
bellwether – an indicator which serves as a leader or predictor of future trends
sales associates – sales people, sales force, shop assistants
doorbuster – a special bargain offered by a store which often causes shoppers to line up outside the door waiting for the shop to open, these are often in limited quantities meaning that the first to arrive have a chance of obtaining it
rebound in spending – an increase in spending after a flat or stagnant period