History of Black Friday

Many people know Black Friday as the TV they got at half the price. Or that year they were running around the stores until midnight trying to find one last gift. Very few know the real facts about the day. Or even the myths that have sparked up amongst people about its name.

Origins of the name

Black Friday originated in Philadelphia in 1961. Stores created deals after Thanksgiving to kick start the shopping season. After that, it started to grow and retailers all over America began to get involved. The name, however, was created by police in the City. Every year, they had to work overtime to keep traffic under control and crowds in order. This led to its name ‘Black Friday’ whispered among them, as they dreaded the event. The name has stuck ever since and has caught on around the world!

Myths behind Black Friday

Whilst the facts are nice to know, the myths are a lot more fun to speculate over!

Retailers were unhappy with the negative connotations of Black Friday, so they came up with a new origin story. They claimed that the money that this day brought in was enough to bring shops into the ‘Black’. They said companies operated at a loss for the financial year and this was the one thing that brought them out of it. This is completely false.
In 1869, the prices of gold plummeted, causing a market crash. A myth was spread that this was where the name Black Friday originated. Yet the crash actually happened on a Tuesday.

Another myth around the name is one of the most common beliefs around the origin of the name. Many people associate the term with the black ink of a rise in sales for businesses. This was due to retailers’ efforts to change the origin story. It looks like it paid off!

Fun facts

  • Black Friday didn’t officially begin until the ’60s. Retailers had been encouraging consumers to start holiday shopping early since the 19th Century. They did this during parades which were a regular event the day after Thanksgiving. Bigger stores would sponsor floats to promote their latest offers.
  • President Roosevelt also saw merit the official start of the Christmas shopping earlier. He changed the date of Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November instead of the fifth. This extended the amount of time for shopping and made retailers very happy!
  • Congress had to step in as the response from the public was less than enthusiastic. They compromised by making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November. This middle ground helped to appease consumers and retailers alike.

Whatever you believe about the day, Black Friday remains the biggest shopping day of the year in Europe. For good reason too. The sales keep stores in business, which is great for retailers. While the reduced prices make Christmas shopping that bit more manageable for us.