Black Friday isn’t just for the USA anymore

The term “Black Friday” started with a complaint about all the people blocking the streets when they went out shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It soon became known as the day the retailers “get into the black” — made a profit — on their account books as people storm the stores to begin Christmas shopping.

So it is clearly a U.S. thing.

And yet, this year “Black Friday” ads appeared in Brazil and Honduras. (Probably in many more places but I can document these two locations.)

In Brazil, the idea is the same for consumers, use the day to buy something on sale in time for Christmas. (Whether that item is a gift or a self-gift.) But given the high import duties (Brazil is a nasty place to buy imports, with some duties as high as 200 percent), transportation taxes between the states (think of the old Confederated States of America) and city, state and national taxes, things are still expensive.

Take the ipad 2, for example. It was being offered in a special Black Friday sale for R$1099 ($526) – a bargain by Brazilian standards but still over 40 per cent more expensive than the standard price on Apple’s US website.

As one Twitter user eloquently put it: “Black Friday in Brazil – everything for half of twice the price!”

And then there is Honduras.

They don’t just have “Black Friday” they have “Black Week” and some stores extend the sales through Sunday.

Once again, the idea is for the stores to offer sales to entice shoppers in. In Honduras, however, the prices are not as outrageous as Brazil largely because of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The adoption of “Black Friday” in Honduras has a few people upset. They argue that if the stores can offer discounts of up to 70 percent, that means the rest of the year the shops are earning an 80 percent profit.

If “department stores nationwide join the American tradition and offer discounts of up to 70%” (this part is in the text) means that these entrepreneurs…have a profit margin of over 80%. In that head you will be investing for not winning?

Others complain that Honduras is doing nothing on its own and only blindly following a fad from another country.




What does that mean for Americans scratching, crawling and pulling guns on each other on the US Black Friday?

Well, to be honest to many of these people, the international connection means little. But for reporters it could mean a series of stories that show how a U.S. tradition has been transplanted and how it affects jobs and income in the United States.

For example, it means that U.S. industries have more opportunities to sell more goods to Honduras rather than Brazil because Honduras is part of a free trade agreement and Brazil is not. (Of course, it also means that for Honduras to be better consumers of American products, that country has to have a stronger middle class and less poverty. And here is where explaining how the development programs work and why they are necessary comes in.)

It also means that there are potentially numerous stories linking the holiday shopping patterns between the United States and other countries. (Local reporters could start with talking to members of the local immigrant communities.)

All of these stories could be done without ever sending a reporter to Brazil or Honduras or any other country. Intelligent use of the International Trade Statistics page can nail down who are the major international buyers of a states’ goods and services. And using the  Census Bureau site can tell what country sent the most immigrants to a specific area in the States.

This is not rocket science folks. It is good journalism to be curious and to look for ways to inform readers, viewers, listeners about how they are connected to the world. It is all part of informing and putting things into context so that the American people are better informed about what is going on around them.



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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas, Trade

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