A History of Black Friday

How the shopping frenzy came to be.

Most people are familiar with Black Friday. The day following Thanksgiving that marks the start of Christmas shopping. But there’s a reason they call it black Friday.

You would think the holiday was created by retail stores as a final hope to increase sales before the year’s end. Surprisingly, we can all thank the Philadelphia Police Department for the nickname.

It all started in Philly

In the 1950s, advertising holiday shopping before Thanksgiving was common, and not frowned upon. With the annual army-navy football game taking place the weekend after Thanksgiving, tons of people came to town and all police hands were on deck to control the chaos.

With so many tourists visiting, stores took the opportunity to advertise to a larger audience. Since both the retail market and shoppers benefited from the sales, the tradition of after-Thanksgiving shopping grew quickly.

“The Philadelphia Police Department started to refer to the day after Thanksgiving as ‘Black Friday,’ with the unrealistic hope that people would find the whole shebang distasteful and opt out of the collective consumer madness,” said Maxwell Strachan in the HuffPost.

To their surprise, the name stuck and has developed into one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Modern Black Friday

Now the single-day shopping event has grown to include Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. Some stores promote Black Friday deals all November long. Day-of, people line up outside stores for “doorbuster” deals. If that sounds terrible, most of your Black Friday deals can be bought online.

The migration from in-store shopping to online probably has to do with the dangers of shopping in such a big crowd. A lot of injuries have been recorded on Black Friday, even some deaths. The majority of these incidents happen at bigger stores like Walmart or Target. Luckily, this year both of these retail giants are celebrating Black Friday all weekend long. This should help break up the crowds a bit.

Plan ahead by making shopping lists, reviewing last years sales to decide which stores you need to hit, checking out presales before Thanksgiving and starting the day early. If you don’t run out of time, you’re guaranteed to find can’t miss Black Friday deals.