History of Black Friday

You've probably heard plenty of adults getting excited about Black Friday, but what is it? Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and it's not actually a real holiday. However, many people are granted a day off from work. On Black Friday, it is tradition for stores to have a huge sale to help people get started with their holiday shopping. Let's find out a bit more about how Black Friday originally started and how it's changed over time.

The first time that Black Friday was ever mentioned was in reference to a large financial scandal in the United States in 1869. It was only much later by the 1960s that people started using the name "Black Friday" to refer to the day of shopping that follows Thanksgiving. The name actually comes from an accounting reference. When a business is losing money, accountants say that they are in the red. However, once the business starts making a profit, they are known to be back in the black. Since so many people are attracted by the huge discounts on Black Friday, the increase in sales helps businesses to make money. In other words, it helps them to be in the black. Another possible explanation is due to the large amounts of traffic that is caused by shoppers trying to get to the stores. This was especially so in Philadelphia in the 1960s, when the local police there started referring to the incredibly busy shopping day as Black Friday.

  • In recent years, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day throughout the whole year!
  • Black Friday originated in the United States.
  • People from the south of Canada often come across the border to participate in the U.S. Black Friday sales too!

When Black Friday first started, stores would open at six o'clock in the morning to let shoppers come in early. They would be greeted by large crowds of shoppers standing outside the doors early in the morning. Eventually, the stores started opening the doors earlier and earlier. Their opening times were pushed up to five o'clock, four, and then even midnight, just after Thanksgiving was over! Shopping on Black Friday can get a little crazy when there are such huge numbers of people inside the stores. Kids especially should be careful and hold on to their parents' hands because they can easily get lost among the crowds.

Today, people can also shop for the same deals on store websites to help them save time. The items that people shop for on Black Friday can vary from just about everything, from clothing to electronics, toys, household goods and more. For many shoppers, Black Friday is the perfect time to get an early start on their Christmas shopping list. They can buy Christmas presents for their family and friends and also take advantage of the discounts. Some people are so serious about Black Friday that they start comparing prices and looking for coupons well in advance. There are many stores who actually do advertise their discounted prices early on, but others prefer to keep it a secret until the very last-minute. That way, shoppers stay excited and come by to have a look at the deals themselves.

  • It is usually still dark outside when many shoppers head out to start looking for Black Friday deals!
  • In 2009, just over 30% of all Black Friday shoppers were waiting outside the stores by five o'clock in the morning.
  • Since some stores expect so many people to visit, they open on Thursday, which is Thanksgiving, instead. They call it Black Thursday.
  • Several stores have "early bird" discounts. This means that the first wave of shoppers (for example, the first hundred people to enter) receive a special discount.
  • Some shoppers camp outside stores to make sure they are first in line when the doors open.
  • Some online stores like Amazon extend their Black Friday discounts to other countries like the UK.
  • On Black Friday, the most popular items are usually toys and electronic devices.
  • Today, Black Friday usually draws even more business than the Christmas sales that come a little later on.


Additional Resources

  1. Black Friday History — Learn about the origins of Black Friday and how it has changed over the years.
  2. How People Shop — Scientists have found patterns in the way people shop on Black Friday.
  3. Crazy Black Friday — This article looks at how Black Friday can make people act a bit crazy sometimes!
  4. Black Friday Changes — See how Black Friday shopping in stores has changed since earlier times.
  5. Learning About Black Friday — Find out about some other sites and resources where you can find more information about Black Friday.
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