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Black Friday deals are no longer limited to electronics — broadband providers are now jumping on the popular shopping holiday.
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The shopping holiday Black Friday comes from the US. The term refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November.
Since the 1930s, this day has been widely regarded as the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season for several reasons. Thanksgiving is the last major holiday before Christmas so Santa Claus usually features in Thanksgiving Day parades – which are often sponsored by department stores – and because the holiday always falls on a Thursday, students and most non-retail employees have that Friday off from work.
Black Friday is usually the busiest shopping day of the year, giving rise to the theory that it derives its name from old accounting systems which marked losses in red and profits in black. Because everyone starts their holiday shopping on this day, stores begin to turn a profit, therefore going from being “in the red” to being “in the black.” This is just a theory, however, and no one really knows where the name got its origins.
Although a lot of people still go out shopping on Black Friday, more Americans started taking their holiday shopping online in the early 2000s. In 2003 and 2004, retailers noticed their online sales spiked on the following Monday, probably due to people who were too busy with family to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday or those who missed the limited-time Black Friday offers in store and needed to find other gifts for their loved ones.
Retailers quickly realised they could piggybank off of this new trend and extend the shopping by creating a new holiday: Cyber Monday. The term was coined in 2005 to persuade people to continue shopping online, once they returned to work.
Although both holidays offer great deals on a wide variety of products, Black Friday tends to offer better deals on electronics, and Cyber Monday is more focused on retail, especially fashion.
Whereas Black Friday is both online and offline, Cyber Monday is online only, and it was quicker to spread internationally than Black Friday.
Since the early 2000s, American retailers operating in the UK have tried to bring Black Friday across the pond.
In 2010, Amazon was the first to start successfully marketing Black Friday deals. Asda – owned by the American company Walmart – followed suit in 2013 with its ‘Walmart’s Black Friday by Asda’ campaign.
While both were successful, Black Friday didn’t take off in the UK until 2014 when more UK-based retailers started taking part in the sales. That year, police had to be called in to stores across the UK to deal with crowding, violence and traffic issues.
While shops are still crowded that day, it’s since become a much calmer, more civilised affair as more people buy online instead of in-store. That doesn’t mean it’s become any less popular: Black Friday has become the biggest shopping day in the UK with 2015 sales figures around £2 billion.
In 2016, Black Friday falls on 25th November and Cyber Monday follows it on 28th November. As more people take part in these holidays and start their shopping, however, retailers and companies have started releasing deals earlier than these days. A lot of deals go live the week before, which is now called Cyber Week.
Before you rush into buying any Black Friday broadband deals, you should check to make they’re actually good offers for you.
If you are looking to switch your broadband, think about what kind of deal you’re looking for. Do you really need super-fast broadband if you’re just checking Facebook or watching YouTube, or would you be overpaying for speeds or allowances you don’t actually need? The monthly price on one deal may look great, but does it have a high enough data allowance if you’re regularly downloading movies and playing online games? Think about what features you need and want before rushing into anything.
Similarly, don’t be swayed by any freebies on offer, and keep an eye on the fine print. How long do those discounts last for, just a few months or the entire contract? Look at the cost of the full contract, not just the monthly rate. Finally, check your current contract to see what fees you would be liable to pay for switching providers. Some savings may be negated if your termination fees are high enough.
Spectrum Internet appears to be the first provider offering retail broadband services via the Openreach 500 and 1000Mbps FTTP tiers.
Holyrood wants all premises to have superfast broadband access by 2021.
Virgin Media has extended ultrafast broadband services to more premises in Bangor, Northern Ireland.
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