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.