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The Origin of Black Friday: Unraveling the Shopping Tradition

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Explore the true story behind the name "Black Friday".

description: an anonymous image depicting a crowded shopping mall with people carrying shopping bags and rushing from store to store, symbolizing the hustle and bustle of black friday shopping.

The term “Black Friday” originally had no connection to shopping, says Nancy Koehn, a historian and professor at the Harvard Business School. In fact, it was originally used to describe a financial crisis that occurred in 1869 when the gold market crashed. However, the term resurfaced decades later, taking on a new meaning related to shopping.

Traditionally, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has been one of the biggest shopping days of the year and used by retailers to kick off the holiday shopping season. But how did this day become synonymous with deals and discounts?

The true story of Black Friday begins in the 1960s in Philadelphia. Police officers coined the term to describe the chaotic traffic and mayhem that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving. The influx of suburban shoppers and tourists caused heavy congestion, accidents, and unruly behavior. It was a day that posed significant challenges for law enforcement and city officials.

Over time, retailers in Philadelphia realized that they could take advantage of the crowds and turn the negative connotation of Black Friday into something positive. They started offering special sales and promotions to attract shoppers and boost their sales. Gradually, the term Black Friday began to be associated with the start of the holiday shopping season and the opportunity to find incredible deals.

The popularity of Black Friday spread beyond Philadelphia and became a nationwide phenomenon in the 1980s. Retailers across the country adopted the concept of offering significant discounts and opening their doors early on the day after Thanksgiving. The media played a significant role in further popularizing Black Friday, featuring stories of shoppers lining up outside stores and rushing in when the doors opened.

Today, Black Friday has evolved into a global shopping event, with retailers around the world preparing for what they hope will be record-breaking sales. It has become a day of excitement and anticipation for both shoppers and businesses, with people lining up outside stores in the early hours of the morning to secure the best deals.

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