Thanksgiving dinner is over. The sound of the sink clanging rings from the kitchen and belts are being pulled all around the house. Many would prefer to wrap up the leftovers and settle down on the couch, but the majority will be waiting in line at Target, Walmart, and other malls across the country. The National Retail Federation estimates that over 150 million shoppers will search for deals and check their names off their shopping lists within the first 96 hours after Thanksgiving. Black Friday’s origins are classic stories of marketing spin and misinformation.
There is a lot of mythology about Black Friday’s origins. Many of these stories are fabricated for the benefit or shock value of retailers.
The color itself is the most popular story. The color black and red would be used by accountants to record their losses and profits. Many people believed that the Friday after Thanksgiving was when retailers finally made a profit for the fiscal year. However, this was a retailer-perpetuated idea that kept the term from its true birth.
Although there are many myths and rumors out there, most are spread via social media posts or viral articles. Truth is not as dramatic as the stories you’ll find floating around.
Retailers have tried to spread the shopping frenzy across multiple days after a series of injuries, including death. After shoppers ran in uncontrollable hordes to grab the best deals, this was when retailers tried to spread the shopping frenzy over multiple days. Cyber Monday, which is the day to shop online for holiday shopping, is being promoted as Small Business Saturday.
What Really Happened
There are a few places where the true origin of “Black Friday” is found. While it’s a less dramatic version of the story than others, there was still plenty of marketing needed to make the weekend a holiday celebration.
The first documented use of “Black Friday” occurred in 1869 after a conspiracy to buy stock market gold crashed and bankrupted many Wall Streeters and others across the country. It would take over 100 years for the Black Friday concept to become mainstream.
The phrase was first used by Philadelphia police officers in the 1960s to describe the large number of shoppers who would flood the streets the day following Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day has been the official start of the holiday season since 1924’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Department stores would then open their doors to thousands more shoppers the following day. All of the deal-seekers caused chaos and long hours for the police department each year. This is why “Black Friday” has a less-than-cheery meaning.
Retailers wanted to capitalize on this habitual shopping. Some even tried to change the name of Friday to “Big Friday”, but that didn’t work. Marketers adopted the term in the 1980s and gave it a makeover to encourage Americans to shop when deals are hot.
According to the NRF, Americans will spend at least half of their holiday shopping this Thanksgiving weekend.
Modern-Day Holiday Shopping
Many retailers start Black Friday as early as Thanksgiving. Brick-and-mortar shops have been selling earlier than online shopping to compete with online shopping since the early 2000s.
44% of Black Friday shoppers opted to shop online for their gifts in 2016, an increase that is expected to continue.
Thanksgiving weekend doesn’t have to be reserved for large companies. In 2010, American Express introduced Small Business Saturday. This encouraged shoppers to support small businesses in their local communities that were unable to compete with large box retailers when it comes to holiday deals.
There are many ways to participate in this year’s holiday gifting, so whether you’re happy to spend the night in the cold or shop from the comfort of your home, there’s no harm in getting started.
When is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is the Monday following Thanksgiving, in this year’s calendar. However, deals could start appearing even earlier.
Cyber Monday: What to Buy
These are the top tips to save big on Cyber Monday.
- You might be able to find Black Friday deals that you didn’t see.
- Buy laptops and computers.
- Get your wardrobe ready.
- Find deals on educational software.
- Avoid shipping costs.
- Find Cyber savings opportunities early.
- Order food online
Continue reading to learn how you can get the most out of Cyber Monday.