In a consumer culture that has dominated the entire millennium, buying at the holidays has become more important than the calendar holidays themselves, and none more so than the ever growing monster that is the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The term "Black Friday" was coined in the 1960’s by Philadelphia police officers for the day after Thanksgiving when there would be a rush to the big department stores after the country’s most gluttonous day for filled bags, rather than stomachs. Traffic jams and stewarding headaches became synonymous with the day for the police, but for the stores it was a matter of only one thing - profit.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now overtaken Christmas Eve on the spending spectrum, with the invented holidays firmly grounded in the stratosphere of bargain, attracting the masses who simply cannot miss out on the price cuts, deals and gift cards offer on the day. In 2015, the final estimate for in-store sales on Black Friday was in the region of $10.4 billion, and while it may have been down 10 percent from the previous year, that doesn’t necessarily mean the overall spending was down.
After its introduction ten years ago, Cyber Monday’s popularity has grown substantially, and this year is set to be its biggest yet. The often videoed mania of Black Friday has detracted those slow, peaceful shoppers from physically pounding the pavement on the crazy day, instead relaxing in the confines of their home — cozy over laptops — to execute their more efficient and infinitely less stressful holiday shopping.
To combat the fear of sites crashing and blogging hysteria, many retailers who engage in online sales have already begun ‘advance sales’ and the holiday is now becoming a week-long event.
Indeed, many retailers who participated in online sales last year found their online profit exceeded expectations, and in some cases, even exceeded in-store sales.
This year sees Apple return to festive bargaining. Having skipped last year's event (allowing resellers do much of their work for them), they return this year with an ambiguous promise of a ‘one-day shopping event’. Given how well their products performed at resale last year, projectionists admit that even with their participation on the day, their sales cannot hope to mimic those of Target and co. for iPad and Apple watch sales. So why return?
Apple is following the trend that began the bargaining nature of the holiday in the first place. With people saving in the summer months or spending in areas of recreation or holidaying, i.e. away from retailers, and spending slowing in the fall because of increased schooling expenditure, retailers are almost desperate by Thanksgiving for profit that invariably anything will be done to attract the masses. The iPhone 7’s middling start could well have been one of the main components in Apple’s decision to return to bargain busting.
Overall, this year is set up to be an interesting one spending wise. While economic growth has been on the rise the entire year and forecasts on the East coast protecting it be a cold but relatively calm day, could our friend the Internet be the major upset in in-store sales? As confidence grows in online shopping, could the tech-savvy exceed the hassle of in-store spending in the coming years? And if so - Black Friday as was originally known for the black thicket of crowds, could soon become an obsolete term.
Here are 10 things you may not know about these two wallet-busting days...
1. Thanksgiving day shoppers increased by a whopping 10 million last year from 2014 leading those who are normally closed on the day to re-evaluate their stance on holiday closures this year.
2. The recession in 2008 caused a very clear shift in the number of people seeking bargains and deals. Previous to this, there was more emphasis on the day on spending rather than saving.
3. Last year Target shattered its online sales but customers were kept on the site for up to 40 minutes trying to check out! This year they're applying the same discounts in store to combat and have updated their sites capabilities to deal with the inevitable buyers.
4. Almost 50 percent of all cyber Monday buys were made from mobile phones.
5. 75 percent of those mobile spends were made on iOS devices.
6. Sales on Cyber Monday between 2012 and 2015 jumped $1 billion with the trend expected to double this year.
7. 2015 marked the fourth year of Walmart workers' protests on Black Friday, protesting an $8.40 minimum wage while company shareholders are collectively worth $145 billion.
8. Roughly 10 percent of shoppers on cyber Monday will find their item has sold out by the time they've arrived at check out.
9. A Black Friday stampede in 2008 caused the death of a Walmart employee, highlighting the mania surrounding the holiday and the avaricious nature of bargain hunters.
10. Less than 20 percent of bargain hunters look to shop on Thanksgiving day questioning the purpose of opening on such a day and depriving workers of the holiday.
Let me share with you a female doctor and CEO's life hack: if you are not trying to 'make' a baby, you do NOT have to bleed every month. As doctors, we have seared into women's minds: you must have a period every month (if you are not on any medications). However, we now have the technology to safely and effectively "turn off" periods.
The idea of #PeriodsOptional first came to me when I was trying to get pregnant with my first child. Each month the uterus builds a rich blood filled lining to accept an embryo. But without an embryo, that lining gets shed, and the whole process starts over again. Basically, the only reason that we (those with uteri) bleed each month is because we didn't get pregnant. An average woman will begin her period at 12 years old, have two children in her lifetime, and remain fertile until the age of 50. That's approximately 35 years of incessant menstruation for no good reason.
Each time you build up that lining (endometrium) and slough it, you risk endometrial cancer. And each time you pop out an egg for that lining, you risk ovarian cancer. The only way to prevent ovarian cancer that we currently know of (short of taking out your ovaries) is to turn off the monthly egg-popping using birth control. Women who used birth control pills for 5 or more years have about a 50% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never used oral contraceptives.
Dr. Beverly Strassman, who studied the Dogon tribe in Mali, found that it might be "more natural" to have fewer periods. In the old days, we had about 100 periods in our lifetimes. Now, we have 350-400. Historically, we'd start periods at 16 (we now start at 12 years old), we'd have eight babies (we now have two on average), and we'd breastfeed for 20 months (we now do zero to six months at best).
Since the creation of the birth control pill, doctors have known that the one week withdrawal bleed (aka "period") is optional. Dr. John Rock, one of three co-founders of the birth control pill, was the one that pushed for a bleed one week out of four. It was to see if he could get the method through the Catholic Church. He said it was just to make the periods regular and thus Catholics could better utilize the rhythm method. He also thought that women would be more likely to accept the method if it was consistent with what they were used to. Thus since the beginning the birth control pill, women have been forced to bleed one week out of four. Needless to say, if I were one of the co-founders, I would have pushed for #NoPeriods or #PeriodsOptional.
Let's explore other benefits of skipping your monthly bleed:
- You save money – we use 12,000 feminine hygiene products in our lives.
- You save the planet from landfill.
- You decrease your risk of certain medical conditions – ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and anemia
- Certain diseases do better on stable hormonal levels – acne, PCOS, diabetes, seizure disorder, depression/psychological conditions.
- Increased productivity – the number one cause of missed work/school in a woman under the age of 25? Her periods.
Using birth control to skip periods:
- You can use the hormonal IUD, the implant, the shot, the ring, the patch and the pill. Note: You cannot use the patch for longer than 12 weeks in a row, because too much estrogen will build up in the blood.
- You do not have to use "special pills" that come in 84 or 91 days packs. You can use any pill and just skip the last week (if it is a four week pack) or go straight into the next pack (if it is a three week pack). Though if you are paying cash, those are sometimes cheaper.
- If you get breakthrough bleeding and have taken at least three weeks of active pills in a row, then you can stop the active pills for five days, have a bleed during that time, then restart on day six whether or not you are bleeding. This "cleans out the uterus" and allows you to start fresh.
- There are 40 different formulations of the birth control pill. So if one doesn't work for you, there are at least six other progestins and two levels of estrogen to play with.
- To skip the bleed on the pill, you want a progestin with higher progestational activity. Go to this chart that I created to review the options.
As the only female founded/led reproductive health company in the birth control delivery space, Pandia Health set out to make women's lives easier by sharing cutting edge, evidence-based women's healthcare. We commissioned a study of 1000 women ages 20-35 in the US to see what they knew about the topic. We found that:
- 66% of women had never been informed by a doctor that they could skip their periods safely.
- 46% have missed school because of periods.
- 58% would turn of their periods if they knew it could be done safely.
So make your uterus a happy uterus. A happy uterus is one that is not "crying" unnecessary bloody tears.