The day after Thanksgiving, popularly known as Black Friday, has evolved into one of the most bustling shopping days in the USA, UK and some EU Member States – and it’ll soon be upon us. Major national retailers typically entice shoppers with exclusive money-saving deals on a diverse range of products, both in their physical stores and on their online platforms. According to widespread belief, the term “Black Friday” originates from the idea that businesses operate in a financial deficit, often referred to as being “in the red,” until the day following Thanksgiving. On this day, extensive sales events finally enable them to achieve profitability, figuratively putting them “in the black.”




The earliest documented instance of the term “Black Friday” did not apply to the post-Thanksgiving shopping spree, but rather to a financial crisis. It was specifically associated with the United States gold market crash on 24 September 1869. Notorious Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk collaborated to acquire a substantial portion of the nation’s gold, to artificially inflate its price and reap substantial profits. However, on that fateful Friday in September, their scheme unravelled, causing a catastrophic stock market collapse that led to financial ruin for thousands of individuals, from Wall Street magnates to ordinary farmers, who all plummeted into bankruptcy.




Sales after Thanksgiving have always been popular in the United States. The trend was initially recognized by the department store Macy’s in 1924 when they advertised Thanksgiving sales. However, this tradition persisted into the following decade, albeit with many businesses grappling with the economic hardships of the Great Depression. As the 1930s drew to a close, the economy began its slow recovery. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took a unique step to boost economic activity by advancing Thanksgiving by a week, a move that some referred to as “Franksgiving.” In the late 1980s, retailers innovatively transformed Black Friday into a positive experience for themselves and their customers. This gave rise to the “red to black” concept that we spoke about earlier, symbolizing the day after Thanksgiving as the point when American stores finally achieved profitability. Black Friday was the biggest day for in-store shopping in the States in 2022, reaching 72.9 million consumers, up almost 15%, while 87.2 million shopped online. The words of Marilyn Monroe capture this almost uncontrollable frenzy:


“Happiness is not in money, but in shopping”


Black Friday has since been accompanied by other shopping holidays, including Small Business Saturday, which encourages patronage of local retailers, and Cyber Monday, promoting online shopping. Giving Tuesday has emerged to encourage charitable donations. We now also have Cyber Week, essentially referring to the days after Cyber Monday, when retailers continue their irresistible offers.




As a prominent American company, Amazon was already accustomed to the tradition of Black Friday sales every Thanksgiving and first introduced this concept to the British public in 2010. Subsequently, in 2013, Asda, a subsidiary of one of America’s largest retail giants, Walmart, followed suit with a huge in-store event. It was during this period that Black Friday gained notoriety, with customers captured on camera pushing and shoving to secure discounted electronic devices. Discounts as high as 70% drew hordes of shoppers to queue outside numerous Asda stores. Predictably, things took a negative turn, with in-store altercations resulting in some customers sustaining injuries requiring hospital treatment, such as broken bones. Despite the skirmishes, the popularity of Asda’s Black Friday sales swiftly spread, prompting many other retailers to adopt in-store and online Black Friday deals. In 2018, the average individual spent £346 during the sale, underscoring its widespread appeal. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that not all retailers participate in Black Friday, with notable exceptions like Marks and Spencer in the UK choosing not to take part. This year, Black Friday in the UK and across the pond is on 24 November, exactly a month before Christmas Eve.




As we all know, Black Friday has surged in popularity in the UK. In 2022, British consumers set a new spending record of £9.42 billion during the Black Friday weekend, with 61% of this expenditure occurring online. It is projected that this November, UK consumers will, on average, spend £189.59 each during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. While this figure represents a decline from last year’s £232.27, it still signifies a substantial amount of money. Online sales are anticipated to account for 63% of the total Black Friday expenditure. The reasons for the possible slump in revenue? The prevailing cost of living crisis may exert an influence on our spending. Many consumers are grappling with escalating prices and constrained budgets, potentially leading to reduced expenditures during Black Friday compared to previous years. On the other hand, the cost of living crisis might also encourage more people to engage in Black Friday shopping. Consumers could actively seek ways to economize on their Christmas shopping amidst these bleak financial times.




What are the usual ways people get tricked during Black Friday and Cyber Week? Let’s zoom in on four trending scams that holiday shoppers should watch out for this year, especially when it comes to signs of identity theft.


  • Fake website scam – Cybercriminals create fake versions of well-known online stores and e-commerce sites. These bogus websites mimic the real deal so closely that your average shopper might easily get hoodwinked by them.
  • Fake order scam – Phishing is an age-old tactic and has become increasingly sophisticated. Scammers send cryptic, unsolicited emails, claiming there’s an issue with an online order – one you never placed. They want you to click the link in the phishing email, in an attempt to capture your banking details and other sensitive data, then to be used for bank scams and other fraudulent activities.
  • Fake delivery notification scam – Here phishing attacks take it up a notch and crooks send counterfeit delivery notifications via text or email. Typically, these notifications pretend to be from well-known carriers like FedEx, UPS, or DHL. Again, you’ll receive an invitation to click a link to accept your delivery, but it’s your personal information they’re after.
  • Gift card scam – Some online stores might request payment through digital gift cards or coupons. Since gift card purchases are difficult to trace, it’s nearly impossible to recover your funds once a thief has your gift card details. The Federal Trade Commission in the States says one in four fraud victims pays with a gift card.


As a confirmation of Black Friday scams in the UK, Katy Worobec, the MD of Economic Crime at UK Finance, tells us:


“As consumer spending has shifted online, criminals have ruthlessly adjusted their approaches to pursue those shopping on the internet. With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, fraudsters are again stepping up their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching for bargains. Intelligence from the banking and finance industry shows that purchase scams are on the rise, with buyers of game consoles, bicycles and clothing at high risk, as well as those making home improvement and DIY purchases.”



Here are four go-to tips for staying safe and watching over your money while shopping online:


  • Check before you buy – With the rise of independent e-commerce websites, consumers often find themselves in unfamiliar territory when searching for unique or niche items from lesser-known brands. It’s crucial to invest extra time in reading reviews and confirming the legitimacy of the company you’re dealing with. When purchasing from an unfamiliar online retailer, exercising caution and conducting thorough research is a wise move.
  • Beware of dodgy websites – Knock-off websites often stand out because of their unusual design elements and functional glitches, such as broken links, typos, and slow-loading pages. Additionally, these companies might lack a physical address or contact information. To verify the legitimacy of a website, look for SSL encryption, which is indicated by “HTTPS” and a padlock icon at the beginning of the web address. This assures that the website is secure.
  • Go credit not debit – In the UK, when you use your credit card to make a purchase between £100 and £30,000, you’re protected by ‘section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act. This provision means that the credit card company shares equal responsibility or liability in case of fraud. Purchases made with debit cards are not covered by ‘section 75.’ Nevertheless, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express participate in a chargeback scheme, providing a chance to get your money back in case of certain disputes or issues.
  • Never click unfamiliar links – When you get an unexpected text from an unfamiliar number or a dubious email concerning an order you don’t recall making, it’s essential to keep your emotions in check. Scammers rely on high-pressure tactics to confuse you and prompt you to hastily click on a link to “address the issue,” but it’s usually a trap. Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources. If you have any doubts about a suspicious text or email, it’s best to delete it.


Here is a takeaway from Katy Worobec about shopping securely online:


“We must all remain vigilant against scams. Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information, and don’t let a criminal rush or panic you into making a decision that you’ll later come to regret.”




Staying safe and secure online is now more important than ever not only on Black Friday and during Cyber Week. You need an IT solution that will stop scams and online fraud in their tracks. You need a solution that will tell scams to scram – for good! And that’s exactly what I will help you with to give you peace of mind. Without being boastful, I am what many consider to be a London IT thought leader, entrepreneur, and cybersecurity expert. I have more than two decades of experience in helping SMEs in the UK with IT support, cybersecurity and risk mitigation, and implementing good cyber hygiene. With IT in my blood and in my blood, data protection is the name of the game for me. Contact me today and let’s secure your digital world and stop cybercriminals in their tracks. With me by your side, you can forget about any Black Friday blues.

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