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Prof. Nancy Prideaux, University of Texas Austin – Logistics of Black Friday

In today’s Academic Minute, Prof. Nancy Prideaux of the University of Texas at Austin reveals the year-long process behind the biggest retail shopping day of the year.

Nancy Prideaux is Director of the UT in NYC program and a senior lecturer in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Texas at Austin.  Her research is focused on apparel retail and visual merchandising and she has taught a variety of courses in the Textiles and Apparel curriculum at the University of Texas.

About Prof. Prideaux

Prof. Nancy Prideaux – Logistics of Black Friday

We are unsure how the words “Black Friday” came to be applied to the day after Thanksgiving in the retail domain. What we do know is that this use of the term is fairly recent, coming into the general vernacular in the 1980s. As the term is used today, ‘Black Friday’ is attributed to the busiest sales day of the year.  Retail lore considers this to be the day a retailer’s profits shift from being ‘in the red’ to being ‘in the black.’ 

Planning for this pivotal day begins the year before and involves the concerted efforts of a global workforce. The supply chain is driven by human ingenuity balanced with historical analysis working in concert to ensure that the perfect gift for a loved one awaits you in your favorite store.

In search of this season’s must-have gift, store buyers have been traveling the world over.  The gift you select must first be designed and sampled; then located and ordered by a store’s buyer. The item must be produced at the right price, packaged, stored, possibly imported and transported to its final destination. All the while, creative directors are planning the perfect store atmospherics to set the tone for the holiday season. The store’s visual team has been tucked away for months in basements and warehouses carving, gluing and welding to craft astonishing window displays that conjure fond childhood memories and in-store decor that creates the perfect shopping backdrop.  The elements creating the visual experience are put in place in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and are designed to give shoppers the undeniable sense that a very special time of the year has arrived.

Production support for the Academic Minute comes from Newman’s Own, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good for over 30 years, and from Mount Holyoke College.

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