Sunday, November 18, 2012

Other Things America Is Exporting

Black Friday.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, marked as the "official" start of the Christmas shopping season. The thing is, though, the date of Black Friday depends on the date of Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is a strictly American-only holiday. Which means you need to find some way to convince non-Americans that all of a sudden they need to bust down the doors of their local retailers.

Some nations are able to get the concept, with the ones that do inevitably comparing the size of their discounts to the size of the American discounts. Canada, proximity to the United States being what it is, understands rather readily. Brazil seems to be on board as well. Apple has introduced Australia to the concept, which seems to have gone over well, though Australians may just be going 'Apple is having a sale, who cares why'.

But then it gets a bit less straightforward. Last year, Black Friday was exported to Mexico under the name 'El Buen Fin'- The Good End- as part of an effort to stimulate Mexico's flagging economy. That's going on right now. While there isn't a Thanksgiving, there is Revolution Day, November 20, which falls on a Monday this year. Stretching El Buen Fin out to a four-day event so as to hit Revolution Day seems to help do the trick.

Which is why Black Friday hasn't gone over well in the United Kingdom, at least not yet. There's no holiday around this time in the UK to rationalize a sale, so when retailers attempted to introduce Black Friday there a year or two back, the British had no idea what in blazes they was talking about and didn't bite. There was no good reason to open up their wallets, especially when they're already trying to watch them. Besides, they already have their Black Friday: Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, during which they engage in typical Black Friday behavior.

Retailers are trying it again, rebranding Black Friday as 'early bird Christmas shopping'. Because why have one stampede when you can have two.

China, it appears, does not participate in Black Friday. Their closest equivalent, Bachelor's Day, happened a week ago. With that kind of timing, it would make no sense to hold Black Friday. The wallets just got emptied already. What's the point?

Russia doesn't either. They just plain don't get why those idiot Americans are clobbering each other. Here's Russia Today's opinion on it- Russia Today being little more than a Kremlin mouthpiece, and Pravda's, which is a Russian Communist Party mouthpiece. Neither is overly complimentary. Non-mouthpiece source RIA Novosti is more neutral on the topic, but says nothing about any Russian participation.

France is... well, France.

In fact, most of the world still sits it out. I saw Spain sitting it out, Germany sitting it out, India sits it out, South Korea contents itself with being online for the American sales, the entire African continent is absent. Most nations do have one day or other when sales traditionally spike, but it's already been picked out based on local culture. Arbitrarily exporting the day following an American holiday and telling the whole world to shop on that day just isn't going to go over everywhere. Especially when the Americans make such a poor account of themselves. To most of the world, Black Friday is nothing more than a reliable weird-news piece where they can watch stupid foreigners lose their minds from the safety of thousands of miles away. You ever watch the Taiwanese legislature get into a fistfight? Same thing.

Japan participates in Black Friday, but they absolutely refuse to submit to the mob mentality seen elsewhere. They look at the annual videos of stampedes and fistfights and are absolutely horrified not only by the fact that it happens, but that it is apparently encouraged. The closest thing they have to a mob- still no stampedes and trampling, though- is the 'lucky bag sale' on January 2nd. What happens there is, you buy a bag of unknown contents at considerable discount. No refunds, no exchanges. You open it up only after you buy it. Hope you get a lucky bag of stuff you actually want. If not, well, you can always trade with another customer.

Here is a video of Black Friday in Japan.

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