If there is any truth in the old Friday the 13th superstition, it’s probably best left to the mystics, astrologers and soothsayers to debate, although this current Friday the 13th is apparently much more doom laden than Fridays past, because it is the third Friday the 13th of the year. This significantly increases the chances of misfortune….because, well, I’m not really sure.
For offices the hesitation that the unlucky day imbues into decision makers is likely to have an effect. If you have to make a big life or death decision, any sensible person, be they particularly superstitious or not, is likely to put it off, because why tempt fate as the old saying goes, why be foolhardy? Of course, being foolhardy in the face of torrents of bad luck could pay off handsomely, fortune favours the brave, as another old adage goes.
Offices, for example in the City of London, are likely to feel the ‘Friday the 13th effect’. The stock market, quite understandably is often riddled with superstition. Investors, The Daily Telegraph reports, still swear by yet another old saying ‘sell in May and go away’ reflecting an assumption, garnered from, one assumes, generations of navel-gazing, that stocks under-perform between May and the end of October.
Adrian Ash, of gold and silver exchange BullionVault, told the Telegraph, that many traders refuse to place new trades on Friday the 13th. On the last four unlucky Fridays, there’s been a 45 percent drop in trade compared to a week either side of the doomed day.
There was even, back in the 1980s, a decade not short of economic boom and bust, a mini-crash on the New York Stock exchange on Friday the 13th October 1989. You could argue this was fulled by bad luck, or you could argue that it was fulled by a panicked reaction to a news story on the breakdown of a $6.75 billion leveraged buyout deal for UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines. Or you could play it safe and argue it was a bit of both.
Workers in estate agents see evidence of the scourge of Friday the 13th too. Statistics have proved that property transactions decline significantly on Friday the 13th. On May 13 2011, for example, there were 51 percent less transactions, despite the fact that estate agents up and down the land were just sat at their desks, twiddling their thumbs, crying out to make a deal.
Wedding planners also see a decline in business. Apparently people just don’t want to get married on Friday the 13th. Apparently, people aren’t attracted to gaining a lifetime of laughs every time they get their wedding certificate out, at parties, just to do the old ‘look, we got married on Friday the thirteenth and it worked out fine for us’ routine, much to the chagrin of their party guests who, no doubt, would have heard that story several times before and long since tired of it. And then a flatbed truck runs into the living room.
The lesson in all this? If you work in finance, wedding planning or real estate….take the day off.