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The Story Behind Black Friday

Black Friday has been around since Thanksgiving right? The pilgrims and the Native Americans awoke that next Friday morning and immediately ran out to the mall to pick up a 52 inch television. It probably didn’t happen that way, but Black Friday has been a part of the American holiday experience for quite some time.

BlackFridayShopping_blog.jpgRetailers have circulated their own origin story. They would like shoppers to believe that bookkeepers coined the term. Many stores would struggle through the year making a profit. The day after Thanksgiving was the day that stores no longer showed a loss, noted in red ink, and began pulling in a profit, noted in black ink. The first time all year they made a profit became known as Black Friday.

That’s what retailers would like you to believe.

The earliest documented mention of “Black Friday” had absolutely nothing to do with the post turkey day shopping extravaganza. Black Friday was first used to describe the day that the American gold market crashed in 1869. That was in September.

According to the Huffington Post , the origin of Black Friday as we know it came from the Philadelphia Police Department. While no one can pinpoint the actual date Black Friday began, most agree that it came about between the 1950s and 1960s. The Philadelphia PD called the day Black Friday because of all the problems it caused. The increased number of shoppers led to heavier traffic on the streets causing more traffic accidents. The sheer mania of the crowds contributed to physical altercations among overzealous shoppers.

It seems Black Friday is no longer content to keep its place on the day after Thanksgiving. Since a certain toy retailer began opening their doors at 10 pm Thanksgiving night in 2010, other retailers have been following suit. Major department stores open as early as 6:00 pm on the night of Thanksgiving.

Black Friday has gained so much popularity that it has even inspired other off shoot shopping days. Cyber Monday came about in 2005 when’s marketing team was searching for a way to bolster online sales for retailers. While Cyber Monday has never quite achieved the volume that Black Friday boasts; it does increase the amount of online shopping significantly.

Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday. In an effort to push people to small businesses that can’t compete with the deals of the big box stores, American Express began offering special deals for local shoppers. In 2014, Americans spent an estimated $14.3 billion at small businesses. American Express estimates 95 million people patronized small businesses last year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Regardless of how it started, Black Friday shopping is here to stay. How do you prefer to shop? Do you wait in line for the doors to open on Thanksgiving night? Are you more of a Cyber Monday deal hunter? Let us know in the comments below.


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