As we approach Black Friday, it is imperative that Black shoppers take stock of themselves and their budgets rather than running head-first into “bargains of the moment.”   Every year, the day following Thanksgiving opens the floodgates to year-end shopping and promotion of price-slashed goods just in time for Christmas. 

The term ‘Black Friday’ maintains several rumored origins, but most believe it is derived from the businesses operating at a financial loss, or “in the red,” until the day after Thanksgiving, when massive sales finally allow them to turn a profit, or put them “in the black.”  While the most profitable day for major retailers remains the Friday before Christmas, the “in the black” story remains most popular.

There were 155 million shoppers in the United States on Black Friday in 2021 and shoppers spent $8.9 billion online during Black Friday in 2021.  In 2014, Black consumers were predicted to lead all holiday spending by shelling out 17 percent more than other racial groups, and 42 percent of shoppers say they regret buying at least one item during Black Friday. 

Historically, Black Friday was first believed termed so in 1869 when Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk attempted to corner the nation’s gold market at the New York Gold Exchange by buying as much of the precious metal as they could.  They intended to send prices skyrocketing, and become wealthy in the process.  On Friday, September 24, President Ulysses S. Grant intervened, collapsing their plans and the stock market. 

The lesson learned from both origin stories: most sure things and bargains are too good to be true.  With political and economic insecurity rising, this year African Americans may need to err on the side of caution and resist unnecessary purchases.  If you purchase a product you do not need, is it really a bargain?  If the holiday is to celebrate the birth of Jesus for you, try focusing on serving the poor or others in need.  Consider writing your spouse a love poem or “gifting” a Saturday of alone-time where you take the kids, pets, phones, and potential distractions away.  Corny?  Perhaps, but the energy bills for this winter arrive just days after Black Friday.   

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