Can you believe that ‘Black Friday’ has rolled round again? Yes, it’s that time of year again when bargain hunters hit the shops hard and go crazy online – just in time for Christmas. The annual shopping event has become somewhat of a tradition here in the UK after it was popularised in the US in the 1980s.
Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday in November – and Black Friday follows after that. The saying goes that ‘When cutlery has been put down after Thanksgiving Meals, minds turn to Black Friday Deals!’ ‘Black Friday’ is often thought of as the first day of the holiday shopping season. For this reason, retailers offer big reductions, sales and deals in order to entice shoppers.
But where does the name come from? Well, there is some history to it…
Amazingly, the first-ever ‘Black Friday’ happened in 1869 when railway businessman, James Fisk and his pal, Jay Gould, the great financier, tried to monopolise the gold market with a conspiracy theory. This led to a complete financial panic and the ultimate collapse of the market. Fast forward 60 years and another stock market crash occurred on ‘Black Tuesday’ - 29th October 1929, leading to the Great Depression. In this sense, the word ‘black’ has long been used as an adjective, preceding days of the week, to mark the onset of times of economic stress.
So why is Black Friday called Black Friday then, I hear you ask? Well, there is no definite answer for this but there are some popular ideas for the name. On Black Friday, retailers rake in huge profits and therefore have ‘black ink’ on their balance sheets as opposed to ‘being in the red’. Sales surge so much on this day – it is believed that retailers could spend the entire year at a loss but come Black Friday, retailers are ‘in the black’.
Another school of thought is that police and bus drivers in Philadelphia coined the phrase in the 1960s due to excess traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Hordes of people would flock to the city post-festival. Shoppers looking for a bargain and football fans arriving to watch the annual Army-Navy football match on the Saturday would be responsible for this excess traffic. Long jams would cause extended delays – particularly frustrating for the police and drivers working 12-hour shifts stuck in their vehicles.
Similarly, in 1951, the famous journal ‘Factory Management and Maintenance’ brought the name to prominence too. This was nothing to do with shoppers and traffic though. They used the phrase to refer to the problem of factory workers falsely calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving in order to extend their weekend. Reduced workers meant reduced turnover in factories hence the need to call it ‘Black Friday’. In this sense, the word ‘black’ again refers to being ‘marked by disaster or misfortune’.
Generally, most people agree that Philadelphia is responsible for the phrase ‘Black Friday’ which later swept across America. By the 1980s, the retail event of the year was extremely common and long-awaited in readiness for Christmas. A public relations company later tried to put a positive spin on the shopping bonanza by calling it ‘Big Friday’ but the expression never took off.
So, whilst the phrase Black Friday was coined over one hundred years ago, its meaning to refer to profits and losses (aka in the black or in the red) came about only in the 1980s. This was around 20 years after in the term ‘Black Friday’ was actually in regular use.
So, there you have it – a little history of Black Friday. We hope you enjoy the busiest shopping day of the year and getting reading for the festive season. Don’t forget that ‘Small Business Saturday’ (the day from buying from small businesses 😊), ‘Cyber Monday’ and ‘Giving Tuesday’ are also now used in the retail industry. Thus, giving us all lots of unofficial holidays to look forward to! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
We have some wonderful Black Friday offers, please follow this link to our special Black Friday priced fleece footmuffs!