THE TERM BLACK FRIDAY in the context of holiday shopping dates back to the 1960s, when Philadelphia officials used it to describe the chaos on the day after Thanksgiving as cars and pedestrians flocked to town.
Today, Black Friday bargains can be found at a more leisurely pace over the internet from the comfort of the sofa, and the retail marketeers that drive the Black Friday shopping hype call that sensible approach Cyber Monday. But this year, Black Friday has a new currency, and its name is Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Black Friday has arrived, with retailers flocking to offer discounts on their goods to anyone paying in the cyber currency. Most of the offers seem somewhat underwhelming, but what is notable is their sheer number, with companies from beekeepers to mobile phone unlockers offering their wares and services for prices denominated in Bitcoins.
As we reported, Virgin Galactic is accepting Bitcoins for flights into space, and anyone booking with Bitcoins is now entitled to a $100 discount. Other offers include games from the Humble Bundle Store, and another merchant is offering bacon lollipops. Yes, really.
Looking through the hundreds of offers that are available, we can't help but think it's all a bit of a gimmick. The range of stores is wide and many of them are certainly esoteric, but the goods available are simply not things the average shopper wants.
These are early days, however, and if and as Bitcoin value settles down from its exuberant instability, we might see more mainstream retailers jump aboard.
But in the meantime, if you're looking for some freshly minted physical Bitcoins (WARNING: This product has NO value), a personalised pillow, miniature pool table, or some guitar lessons (WARNING: Must pay own airfare to British Columbia) then go knock yourself out. µ