Dec 092011

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the industrial term given to the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend. It all started in 2005 when the press release stated that ‘Cyber Monday’ was quickly becoming one of the busiest online shopping days of the year. According to research, this proliferation of online transaction is a result of the extensive sales promotion and discounts offered before and after Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Following the declaration of the particular Monday as one of the “Biggest Online Shopping Days”, in 2006, launched its portal, a treasure trove of Cyber Monday deals.

Although in inception, Cyber Monday was restricted to USA, it has now become an international phenomenon, affecting online retailers in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Chile and Portugal. In fact, it is believed that shoppers in UK have spent a staggering £19 million every hour on Cyber Monday this year. The total expenditure accounts to over £456 in 24 hours. The rise in the outlay was 14 per cent more than last year’s spend.

The term “Cyber Monday” was first coined by and was used in ecommerce during the 2005 Christmas holiday shopping season. According to head Scott Silverman, it was based on research from 2004 that conclusively proved the Monday following Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, unofficially marking the start of Christmas shopping season) was the twelfth biggest online shopping day. In fact, according to retailers, the period between 5th of December and 15th was the busiest online shopping periods of the year. It was observed that after window-shopping throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, shoppers to the internet the following Monday to buy what they had liked.

In the United States, around 600 retailers offered discounts and sales in the official Cyber Monday website, created by Keeping in par with the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas, a percentage of the profit goes to the Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund which benefits students who want an education in ecommerce. According to comScore data, Cyber Monday has been growing in leaps and bounds since 2006, growing 25% that year, 21% in 2007 and 18% in 2008. Of the transactions, a majority of it is made from work computers, while home computers come close and a small percentage is even made from international locations.

In Canada, a National Post article stated that a number of Canadian retailers were hosting Cyber Mondays of their own. US television broadcasts that emphasize the growth of Cyber Monday sales have triggered a widespread observation of this busy online shopping day in Canada. In fact, US retailers have also made considerable business across Canada. This is somewhat facilitated by the parity of US and Canadian dollar. In Germany, observed the country’s first Cyber Monday in 2010, France had its first Cyber Monday in 2008 while New Zealand had its first Cyber Monday courtesy online retailer Belly Beyond in 2010 as well.

In an age of tech savvy customers and retailers, online business has become an important part of commerce and Cyber Monday only emphasizes the trend.

Dec 052011

Black Friday

In the United States, the day following the Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the Black Friday which marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season. One of the busiest days in the retail industry, the trend is often encouraged among shoppers by promotional sales, special deals and hefty discount and the general hype long before the day. The doors to open at 4 a.m. and on this day, many a shopper truly follows the “shop till you drop” motto. In fact, such is the rush of Black Friday, shoppers even camp outside their favorite stores to barge in as soon as the doors open.

Although the color black is associated with negativity, in this case, black simply alludes to the black ink to signify profit amassed by retailers. According to the National Retail Federation survey, about 226 million shoppers skimmed through stores and websites this year, a significant rise from last year’s 212 million. An average shopper spent $398.62, which, again, outdoes last year’s count of $365.54. The total transaction, taking place during the weekend, have reached $52.4 billion. When hands-on shopping is so epic, could online retail industry be far behind? 37% of the total transaction, amounting to an average of $150.53, was indeed splurged online.

The concept of Black Friday is linked with the Santa Claus floats that end various Thanksgiving Day parades over USA. This unofficially inaugurates the Christmas shopping season, which is basically the whole point of Black Friday. Towards the end of nineteenth century, departmental stores started hosting Thanksgiving Day parades across cities to give the sales an impetus before the year’s busiest shopping season. Of these, the oldest are the Toronto Santa Claus Parade in Canada sponsored by Eaton’s and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York by Macy’s. Later, it became an unwritten rule that no store was going to do Christmas advertising before these parades were over. Hence, Black Friday technically became the first day of the Christmas shopping season. There was controversy during the Great Depression when, prompted by the retail industry’s grievances over a short Christmas sales period, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved up Thanksgiving Day to the week before the stipulated date. Of course, following a mass disapproval it was changed to the fourth Thursday of November.

An online version of the Black Friday is also a rage among shoppers, known as Cyber Black Friday. Websites start providing information for the Black Friday special offers and discounts either distributed deliberately by retailers themselves or leaked from some inside source. Using the advertising tip sites depends on the amount of shipping costs and sales tax involved in transactions. But due to the increase in number of online customers, even shoppers from Canada are purchasing articles from USA through websites.

To harness Black Friday traffic, in recent years, some stores have opened their doors on Thanksgiving evening, thus naming it Black Thursday. This year, Walmart opened up at 10:00 pm on Black Thursday.

Dec 032011

Thanksgiving Day

One of the longest standing tradition, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated throughout USA, Canada and some parts of Puerto Rico, Liberia and Norfolk Islands. Although primarily started as a holiday to celebrate and thank for goof harvest, it has evolved over the years. In fact, in its origin lie a number of contributions by both European and Native American cultures. The Natives used to celebrate their harvest season before the arrival of the Europeans, while the Europeans brought similar traditions of their own.

In Canada, Thanksgiving is a national holiday observed on the second Monday of October. Although the harvest closing celebration is mentioned with reference to God and is extensively held in churches, it is more a secular holiday than anything. In USA, it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November since 1863 following the Presidential proclamation. The ‘First Thanksgiving’ in America was celebrated by the Pilgrims to thank God for delivering them safely to the New World.

Originally a religion oriented celebration where all the members of a community offer God their gratitude for a common reason, there have been many a historic purpose for Thanksgiving like the 1777 thanksgiving was dedicated to the victory in the Battle of Saratoga in the Revolutionary War; the 1789 Thanksgiving had been immortalized by President George Washington for granting them “civil and religious liberty”, “useful knowledge” and for God’s care and providence. Actually all the presidents, save a few like Grover Cleveland and William McKinley, have kept the celebration more along the lines of secularity than religious observance. Traditions like holding hands and saying grace before the Thanksgiving dinner are observed even today.

Food is an important part of Thanksgiving Day, like all the other traditional holidays. In USA, the food served is incomplete without a baked or roasted turkey. The feast commonly constitutes of potato salad with gravy, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, seasonal produce like squash and other fall vegetables, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to top it all up with. Even the Thanksgiving cuisine is an unmistakable blend of Europe and America with all the dishes being particularly English while turkey is native to Americas. Communities organize annual food drives to collect canned and packaged foods to provide the less fortunate at the time of Thanksgiving.

Another tradition attached to Thanksgiving is friends and families gathering together to eat and celebrate together. As a result, it is one of the most frivolous travel periods of the year. Schools and colleges remain closed for four or five days about the weekend. Government employees and even some workers of private firms are given paid holidays on Thanksgiving Day and the day after. Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights in bars and clubs.

To celebrate the holiday, parades are held over a number of cities. In New York, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is televised nationally. Ending with the Santa Claus float, it unofficially ushers in the flurry of pre-Christmas activities. 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Parade in Philadelphia, H-E-B Holiday Parade in Houston and McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago are some other parades held on the day.

Call it a religious tradition or a reason to see your family and friends again after a year of work or studying in some distant city, Thanksgiving Day is one of those holidays that people across North America look forward to every year.