The origin and history of Black Friday is subject to debate. The term came into use in the mid 1960s, but the practice actually began much earlier.
What Takes Place
The term refers to the Friday following Thanksgiving in America. This is usually on the 23rd or the 29th of November. On this day, shopping malls and stores offer big discounts to entice shoppers to come. It is recognized as the onset of the Christmas or holiday shopping rush.
The day isn’t actually a holiday but most people are given the off day by their employers. To accommodate the crowd, shops open much earlier. Some open their doors at 4 in the morning or earlier.
Almost all items in stores are put up for sale. Usually the most popular discounted items are toys and electronic gadgets, computers and appliances.
Origin of the Term
Part of the difficulty with setting dates for the history of Black Friday is that the practice is much older than the actual phrase used. According to records, the habit of shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving has been going since 1924.
The phrase itself was first used in Philadelphia in 1966. The phrase was used by the local police authorities to refer to the massive crowd and traffic that accompany the day. Thus the term designated the amount of work that had to be done by the authorities to keep everything in order.
Recently the phrase has been used in another manner. It refers to the shopping malls’ making a profit. Owing to the sales and influx of shoppers, it’s usually the time when the stores get “in the black” and make money.
The history of Black Friday is also intertwined with other myths. One theory is that the Santa Claus parades popularized the idea. There is a long held belief that Thanksgiving signals the imminent arrival of Santa Claus. This idea became even more popular as stores utilized the parade for promoting sales.
The popular impression is that this date is the busiest and most frenetic in the year. This is in fact rarely the case. Statistics show that in terms of sales and volume, the most hectic day is the Saturday before December 25.
In recent years, security has been ramped up in the shopping malls. This has been done to avoid accidents. There have been some accidents and even deaths as customers scrambled to get inside the stores.
The history of Black Friday has lately been intertwined with that of Cyber Monday. This date is the Monday following Black Friday. It is the online shopping counterpart of the traditional shopping day.
While not as popular as the traditional shopping day, the earnings by stores from that day are now accounted for when assessing sales profits. What is remarkable is that even in difficult economic times, the people still come out in droves.
The advancements in technology are changing the way that Americans shop. Some now do their shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself. Still, for most people the history of Black Friday and its tradition lives on.