How did Black Friday Start ?
The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied to a financial crisis rather than the now well-known holiday shopping – specifically in the U.S. Gold market crash of 24 September 1869.
Two famously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, were working together to buy the nation’s gold as soon as they could, aiming to push the sky-high demand and market it for incredible profits. The plot eventually unraveled that Friday in September, throwing the stock market into free fall and bankrupting everyone from barons on Wall Street to farmers.
However, popular myth has it that Black Friday is the day retailers can make a profit after running at a loss for much of the year. As the legend goes, on the day after Thanksgiving, after a full year of running at a loss (“in the red”) retailers supposedly would make a profit (“went into the black”), when holiday shoppers spent too much money on cheap products.
While retail firms used to report losses in red and gains in black while doing their accounting, this interpretation of the history of Black Friday is the officially sanctioned one, albeit an inaccurate one.
How Black Friday got its Name
Black Friday is the shopping holiday that comes after Thanksgiving. It was initially named Black Friday because the massive shopping resulted in huge traffic problems, accidents, and even violence.
Police coined the term to explain the mayhem around foot and auto traffic congestion in shopping centres downtown. The name was first recorded by rare stamp dealer Earl Apfelbaum in 1966. In his commercial, he said, ” ‘Black Friday’ is the name assigned to the Friday after Thanksgiving Day by the Philadelphia police force. it’s not an endearment word for them.”
Black Friday officially opens the Christmas shopping season. it usually involves huge traffic congestion and overcrowded streets as the downtown shops are mobbed from opening to closing.
Black Friday and Retail Spending
Retailers could spend a whole year preparing their sales on Black Friday. They use the day as an excuse to sell overstock inventory at rock-bottom prices and offer doorbusters and discounts on seasonal items, such as holiday decorations and traditional vacation gifts.
Retailers also offer major discounts on large-ticket products and top-selling TV, mobile phone, and other tech brands, hoping consumers would purchase higher-margin merchandise once inside.
Black Friday advertising material is always so heavily awaited that advertisers go to great lengths to ensure that their offerings don’t leak out in advance.
Consumers also shop for the hottest selling items on Black Friday, which in the absence of sufficient protection, can lead to violence and stampedes.
For example, shoppers engaged in scuffles, fistfights, and stampeding in stores around the USA on Black Friday of 1983 while trying to buy Cabbage Patch Children’s dolls, a must-have toy that year which was also thought to be in short supply.
Appallingly, in 2008 a worker at a large store was even crushed to death on Black Friday, as crowds of shoppers pushed their way into the store when the doors opened.
Black Thursday and Cyber Monday
Retailers moved opening times earlier and earlier on Black Friday for several years, finally hitting midnight, before starting on Thanksgiving evening. Kmart opened in 2009, at 7:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving, so that shoppers could escape traffic on Black Friday and return home in time for dinner with their families. Two years later, at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., a variety of stores started to open on what was derisively dubbed “Black Thursday.” Many stores followed the pattern in subsequent years, opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day, or staying open all day, starting in the early morning hours. Alternatively, some retail and media outlets used the words “Black Thursday,” or “Brown Thursday.”
On the other hand, Cyber Monday dates back to just 2005. Back then, shoppers still needed motivation before buying anything online. Digital retailers began running their own major promotions to cope with the Black Friday brick-and-mortar shopping spree.
Since the Internet was sometimes referred to as “cyberspace” in the old days. The term Cyber Monday was adopted quite easily.
But why Monday and not Saturday ?
It turns out that people prefer shopping while at the workplace, using fast computers and high-speed connections, which can be accessed mostly at the office, compared to the slow dialup modems at home. Monday proved to be a profitable day for online retailers — so they accepted it.
The Dangers of Black Friday Shopping
Shopping during the holidays can be expensive and who wouldn’t want to save money on great deals ?
Unfortunately, while great prices and good deals for consumers seems like a win-win for our economy, each year, accidents occur as a result of the confusion of Black Friday, posing tremendous risks to shoppers and non-shoppers alike.
Walmart is the riskiest spot to shop on Black Friday, according to data-analysis site Silk. 66% of confirmed injuries have happened in Walmart stores. A Walmart worker died in 2008, when he was trampled by a stampede of people.
Millions of people head out to hunt for sales in the early morning hours of Black Friday. Shopping malls are so crowded that finding a parking space can be nearly impossible. With cars competing for spaces and people running into parking lots, there is considerable risk for collisions. Black Friday’s odds of someone being injured in a parking lot are exponentially high.
While the Occupational Health and Safety Administration advises recruiting extra guards for large gatherings, such as those predicted on Black Friday, certain retailers may be short of staff.
Shoppers should be wary not only of the aforementioned stampedes but also of confrontations with shoppers. In recent years, people have been targeted, stabbed and, most often, attacked with pepper spray by other consumers who want the last big-screen TV.
Shoppers spent as much as $67.5 billion online on Black Friday in 2015 and $2.9 billion in stores.
There are also huge opportunities for crooks looking to steal cash and personal data from the unsuspecting. The holiday season is a common time for identity fraud because too many people swipe their credit cards or use them online, so stay on the lookout for any suspect who might be trying to steal merchandise or personal details from unsuspecting shoppers.
Black Friday Statistics
- The biggest options for Black Friday 2018 bargain seekers are Amazon and Walmart: 29% of customers said Amazon would have the best offers and 25% said Walmart would
- Amazon took 47.8% of all electronic purchases on Thanksgiving 2018 and 56.8% on Black Friday of the same year.
- Walmart took 12% of all online sales on Thanksgiving of 2018 and 8.4% of Black Friday sales.
Black Friday arrives formally on Thursday, November 29. But just like many other shopping holidays, Black Friday usually starts a couple of days before the actual event or much earlier at certain shops.
The high degree of expectation for offers is adequate to get retailers to start sales early.
Although a handful of them will begin their sales on Thanksgiving Day on Black Friday, there are still several that will not be open on the holiday until Black Friday proper.
As stores began to realise that by discounting prices, they could attract huge crowds, Black Friday became the day to shop, far better than most last-minute Christmas shopping.
Some vendors put their products up for sale on Thanksgiving morning or send deals online to customers days or weeks before the actual case. Electronics and common toys are the most shopped-for products, as these can be the most dramatically discounted. Prices are cut on everything from home furniture to clothes though.
It’s probably the day of the year you’re most likely to get tackled when reaching for a must-buy item, but it might not be the biggest day in terms of gross receipts.
Black Friday is usually one of the best days of the year for retailers, according to Snopes.com, but it’s the days just before Christmas — when procrastinators end up shopping — that shops make the significant revenue.
Nonetheless Black Friday may be the busiest consumer traffic day of the year.
One of the most horrific events of Black Friday occurred in 2008 when a 34-year-old seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour was killed after a crowd of hundreds of people from the 2000 or so people waiting outside pushed him down and stamped on his back after the doors opened at 5 am. on Long Island, in Wal-Mart, New York.