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The Curious History of Black Friday

Black Friday refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Due to its proximity to Christmas, Black Friday is seen as the day that kicks off holiday shopping by offering deals on all kinds of goods. 

The history of Black Friday, as well as the story of how it got its name, is interesting and worth knowing about. Black Friday continues to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year but it’s also suffered in recent years due to a growing online market. 

Black Friday has also been the source of controversies. Despite that, Black Friday remains a day where people who are looking to go holiday shopping or just shopping in general, can score great deals and buy expensive items at low prices. 

Are you interested in learning more? If so, then keep on reading and we’ll take you through everything you’ll want to know about the history of Black Friday. 

Origin of the Term “Black Friday”

For hundreds of years, the adjective “black” was applied to days upon which calamities took place. There are many events throughout history that have been referred to as “Black Friday.”

The most significant of these days is likely the Panic of 1869 in the United States. This is when financiers tried to take advantage of the American government by cornering the gold market. In response, the President released a large supply of gold, causing gold prices to plummet. 

“Black Friday” was first used to describe the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1951. It was coined in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance. 

It would take another 25 years for the term to catch on. In 1975, The New York Times used the term Black Friday to refer to the day as the busiest traffic day of the year in Philadelphia. 

The term started to become more popular in the 1980s. When merchants started using the term “Black Friday,” they said that it was because they operated at a loss for most of the year. Only in November did were they finally able to be “in the black.” 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The first Thanksgiving Day parade actually took place in Canada. The department store Eaton’s decided to have a parade in November of 1905. Here, Santa would parade around the streets on a wagon through downtown Toronto. 

A few years later, Santa’s sleigh was being pulled through the city by eight live reindeers. A few years after that, there were multiple floats included in the parade, each representing characters from nursery rhymes. 

Macy’s Department Store was inspired by Eaton’s parade and decided to launch their own Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924 in New York City. 

Macy’s wanted to celebrate its success during the 1920s. The parade also led to increased shopping for the following day. Retailers had an unwritten agreement to wait until that day to start advertising their deals for the holidays. 


During the Great Depression, in 1939, Thanksgiving happened to occur in the fifth week of November. This led to a shorter holiday shopping season and retailers worried that they might go bankrupt. Because of this, they petitioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt to push the Thanksgiving holiday to the fourth Thursday of the month.

Unfortunately, it was already late October by this time and most people had already made their Thanksgiving plans. Franklin moved the holiday anyway, which led to protests from many Americans. The mayor of Atlanta called the day “Franksgiving” (Franklin’s Thanksgiving). 

Only 25 states went with the FDR plan to move the holiday. And Colorado and Texas celebrated two Thanksgivings that year.  

Two years later, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring that Thanksgiving Day would take place on the fourth Thursday of November each year.  

The Modern Black Friday Arrives

In the 1950s, businesses were having a major problem. Employees kept calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving in order to get a four-day weekend. Because stores were open on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the people who skipped work could also get a head start on holiday shopping, so long as they didn’t get caught by their bosses.

Rather than trying to figure out who was actually sick and who was faking it, many businesses simply decided to turn the day into a paid holiday. 

The term Black Friday because famous in print in 1966. This is when a story appeared in an advertisement in The American Philatelist, which was a magazine for stamp collectors. In the ad, the police department of Philadelphia used the name to describe the shopping chaos that was happening at retail stores. 

For Decades “Black Friday” Was a Negative

As we mentioned earlier, a “Black” day of the week usually means that something negative happened on that day. “Black Friday” originally referred to the gold crash in 1869.

Also, Black Thursday took place on Oct. 24, 1929. This is the day that marked the start of the Great Depression. It was followed by Black Tuesday the next week. 

On Black Tuesday, the stock market fell by twelve percent even though major investors tried to prop up stock prices. 

Philadelphia police originally referred to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday in a negative way. That Friday was always chaotic and problematic in their eyes. 

Eventually, Black Friday Meant “Profit” (and Discounts)

Due to all of the shopping going on, Black Friday would become known as one of the best days of the year for retailers. They soon embraced the name Black Friday, because their finances would finally be in the black. 

In accounting books, people usually red ink to indicate a loss and black ink to indicate a profit. 

Black Friday Violence

Even though Black Friday was spun to be viewed as a positive for the economy, that doesn’t mean it’s not without its problems. Police still run into issues with the crowds that gather on Black Friday. Since 2006, there have been more than 100 injuries and eleven deaths on Black Fridays, according to data analysis by The Hustle. 

One of the most tragic Black Fridays took place at a Walmart in New York when a man was trampled to death. Despite the man being 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 270 pounds, temp worker JdimytaiDamour died of asphyxiation when shoppers stampeded into the store. 

The doors were broken down by more than 2,000 people. Damour was trapped in the vestibule where he died. Eleven other shoppers, including a pregnant woman, were also injured.

It’s due to incidents like these why police still see Black Friday in a negative light. 

Cyber Monday 

Also referred to as Blue Monday, Cyber Monday is a marketing term that refers to the Monday that follows Thanksgiving Day. It was created by retailers who were looking to do more online sales. The term first appeared during the 2005 holiday shopping season.  

Online retailers now continue to see their sales increase on Cyber Monday and the day is seen as the Black Friday equivalent for these sellers. 

Black Friday in the United States

There are several reasons why Black Friday is such a major shopping day in the United States. First, Thanksgiving is the last major holiday before Christmas. Thus, Black Friday acts as the start of the holiday shopping season.

Also, many businesses give their employees the day off on Black Friday. Retailers aim to take advantage of this by having big sales to boost their traffic. 

In the early 2010s, the competition became so fierce that retailers started to push their Black Friday sales into the evening of Thanksgiving.

For decades, retailers would keep their Black Friday sales going throughout the weekend. However, with a desire to create a greater sense of urgency, the hours to get in on Black Friday deals are now much more restricted. 

With that said, there are still many great deals to be had on Black Friday, from furniture to laptops. If you’re looking for good Black Friday deals on computers, then make sure to get more info!

The Importance of Knowing the History of Black Friday 

Black Friday is an excellent time to find great deals on products that you’ve had your eye on for quite some time. And by knowing the history of Black Friday, you can better understand why we have such big promotions on this day.

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