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Opinions of Monday, 30 November 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

If i were to advocate a ‘Happy Friday’

The US celebrates Black Friday and everybody who has money to spend looks forward to this day. Shoppers make the most out of their monies on Black Friday.

Black Friday, we are told, follows Thanksgiving Day which is one of the most important celebrations in the US aside Christmas. Thanksgiving actually competes with Christmas and Easter for attention.

In the US more than 150 million people shop on that day and in 2014 the estimated total sales made during that period was around $50 billion.

In Ghana we are very good at copying many things the US and UK do. It is as if we have a recorder for most important things that these two countries do. The UK, being a more conservative country, has less sub-cultures to copy. After all, we were once colonized by the UK and through that we have inherited their names, political and educational systems, language, religion, denominations and other sub-cultures.

From the US some of the obvious things we have copied are their lifestyle, music genres, dressing, TV programming styles etc.

So why not copy the Black Friday concept?

Now what’s the real big deal about Black Friday? For those who do not know much about it let me attempt to describe it.

According to Wikipedia, Black Friday is the day following National Thanksgiving day (the fourth Thursday of November).

Since at least the 1930s, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday though.

The closest reason why it is known as Black Friday is given in Wikipedia – “Many retailers report some of their highest profits on Black Friday. The black portion of the name, “Black Friday” relates to businesses recording their losses in red ink and gains in black. This tradition lives on in modern accounting software, hence the name.

So what can we adopt from this?

I believe in Ghana we can also have a day or weekend for promotional sales, can’t we? Now the question is why haven’t we introduced it all these years when as I indicated earlier we are so good at copying things from the West. If the Western countries with all their wealth are crazy about giving or getting fantastic discounts why can’t we do same for Mother Ghana (I am tempted to say poor Ghana).

If this is done, we will attract a lot of tourists from other West African countries. For e.g. available information shows that Black Friday deals attracted cross border shopping into the US especially from Canada.

In Panama, Black Friday was first celebrated in 2012.

The government to the step to attract local tourism to the country’s capital city. During its first year it was believed to have attracted an inflow of about 35,000 regional tourists according to the government’s immigration census.

Other countries like Romania, India, Costa Rica, Austria, Switzerland have all adopted the concept. In 2013 New Zealand also started this special offer.

According to sources, 2014 marked the introduction in Colombia, Bolivia, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Lebanon and France.

So my question is why can’t we set aside a similar day for big promotional sales in Ghana? It will surely boosts sales and create visibility for businesses. It will boost online marketing as well. It will also help families plan better. We already have different kinds of promotions being run at different times by different companies but none of this is coordinated. This one should be done more or less as a national business promotional drive and should have all industries covered Mobile Network Operators, banks, shopping malls, online stores etc

So I think we can consider the first Friday before or after 6th March every year in commemoration of our independence. The other alternative is to hold it on the last Friday before Christmas as part of the Christmas shopping drive.

Now in terms of names, we may copy the concept but not necessarily the name.

Ghanaians, who are very superstitious, will not be excited about the name Black Friday and we all know why. So instead of Black Friday we can have a White Friday or a Happy Friday Sale. After all in Mexico, Black Friday was the inspiration for the government and retailing industry to create an annual weekend of discounts and extended credit terms. However, they didn’t have to use the same name. They adopted the name El Buen Fin, meaning “the good weekend” in Spanish.

So you see, Ghana can copy and innovate just like others have done.

We already say thank God its Friday (TGIF) so why not make one Friday in the year a Happy Friday or a white Friday.

To do this, we need a big player to drive this agenda and I see this sitting at the feet of a few ministries: Ministry of Trade and Industry being the key driver with the Ministry of Communications and Tourism partnering. And please let’s not wait for a private foreign company to come and start promoting it before we start crying for it to be given to an indigenous Ghanaian company.

The other issue is, if we decide to adopt this “shopping day” how long should this last? I believe one to three days will not be bad.

So what if we declare a big promotional sale across the country? It will take a bit of hard work but it is doable. Over to you Mr Minister of Trade and Industry.