Black Friday is the day following U.S. Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened very early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is not a holiday, but several states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the day after off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. In 2013, approximately 141 million U.S. consumers shopped during Black Friday, spending a total of $57.4 billion, with online sales reaching $1.2 billion.
Origins of the term Black Friday
The day's name originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation was made: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss ("in the red") from January through November, and "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or "in the black".
That the day after Thanksgiving is the "official" start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that 'Santa has arrived' or 'Santa is just around the corner'.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Santa parades or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores. Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over. Therefore, the day after Thanksgiving became the day when the shopping season officially started.
Later on, the fact that this marked the official start of the shopping season led to controversy. In 1939, retail shops would have liked to have a longer shopping season, but no store wanted to break with tradition and be the one to start advertising before Thanksgiving. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving one week earlier, leading to much anger by the public who wound up having to change holiday plans.
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day
There have been many reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday.
Small Business Saturday
In 2010, as a response to the heavy emphasis given by the news media to the Black Friday shopping that takes place at large, national retailers, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express and others to promote the importance of small retailers in a local economy, and to encourage Christmas gift shoppers to support such small businesses.
- International Council of Shopping Centers. "Holiday Watch: Media Guide 2006 Holiday Facts and Figure" (PDF). http://holiday.icsc.org/2006/hw06_fullguide.pdf. ; ShopperTrak, Press Release, Template:Wayback (November 16, 2010).
- International Council of Shopping Centers. "Daily Sales Comparison Top Ten Holiday Shopping Days (1996–2001)" (PDF). http://www.icsc.org/TopTen02.pdf.
- E.g., Albert R. Karr, "Downtown Firms Aid Transit Systems To Promote Sales and Build Good Will," Wall St. J., p. 6 (November 26, 1982); Associated Press, "Holiday Shoppers Jam U.S. Stores," The New York Times, p. 30 (November 28, 1981).
- "Fundivo - Black Friday Statistics"
- Ben Zimmer, The Origins of "Black Friday," Word Routes (November 25, 2011).
- Martin L. Apfelbaum, Philadelphia's "Black Friday," American Philatelist, vol. 69, no. 4, p. 239 (Jan. 1966).
- Kevin Drum (November 26, 2010). "Black Friday". http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/11/black-friday.
- "Congress Establishes Thanksgiving". http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving/. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- Sneed, Tierney (November 23, 2011). "Does 'Black Friday' Start Too Early This Year?". U.S. News & World Report. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2011/11/23/does-black-friday-start-too-early-this-year.
- Grinberg, Emmanuella. "Retail employees fight "Black Friday creep"". CNN.com. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/15/living/black-friday-thanksgiving/index.html. Retrieved 15 November 2012.