The Intriguing History And Impact Of Black Friday
Black Friday, synonymous with holiday shopping extravagance, has evolved into an American tradition filled with irresistible deals and discounts. However, the true origins and history of this unofficial holiday often remain unknown. As marketing experts, we’ve witnessed Black Friday’s transformative impact on commerce, making it a monumental day for retailers and shoppers alike.
Origins Of Black Friday
Contrary to popular belief, Black Friday didn’t begin as a shopping bonanza linked to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Its roots can be traced back to a financial crisis. The term “Black Friday” first referred to the U.S. gold market crash on September 24, 1869. Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk attempted to manipulate gold prices for profit, leading to a catastrophic stock market crash that affected both elites and farmers.
The modern incarnation of Black Friday emerged in 1950s Philadelphia. It was coined by the police to describe the post-Thanksgiving chaos as shoppers flooded the city for the Army-Navy football game and shopping sprees. Philadelphia retailers tried, unsuccessfully, to rename the day, but “Black Friday” stuck. It wasn’t until 1985 that Black Friday’s popularity spread nationwide as retailers embraced it and transformed the day into a positive shopping event.
The “Black” In Black Friday
The terms “black” and “red” have accounting origins, signifying the shift from losses (in the “red”) to profits (in the “black”). During manual bookkeeping, red ink represented losses, while black ink indicated profits.
One prevailing myth about Black Friday is its connection to retailers transitioning from operating “in the red” to “in the black” on the day after Thanksgiving. While retailers did use red and black ink to denote losses and profits in their accounts, this story only partially holds true.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a beloved holiday tradition, was introduced by Macy’s in 1924. To celebrate the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” in Manhattan’s Herald Square, Macy’s organized a Thanksgiving morning parade, giving birth to the Macy’s Christmas Parade.
Black Friday’s Soaring Popularity
After retailers rebranded Black Friday, they harnessed its potential to attract massive crowds with enticing discounts, surpassing last-minute Christmas sales. The digital age saw retailers employ newsletters, online ads, and social media for Black Friday marketing campaigns.
The Pandemic’s Impact
The pandemic transformed Black Friday. Retailers once opened on Thanksgiving evening but scaled back as online shopping surged. Supply chain issues further disrupted Black Friday in 2021 and 2022.
Notable Black Friday Facts
Top Black Friday purchases include electronics, toys, and pajamas.
In 2021, 88 million Americans shopped online on Black Friday.
Millennials were the biggest spenders in 2021.
Black Friday shopping time surpasses visits to Disney.
Tragically, more people have died in Black Friday shopping crowds than in shark attacks.
Black Friday has gone global, with Canada and the UK adopting their versions.
The Rise of Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday, an e-commerce holiday following Black Friday, became the most profitable day for online shopping, coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005. Online giants like Amazon and eBay capitalized on Thanksgiving shopping, dedicating the Monday after Black Friday to online sales. Cyber Monday consistently set online sales records, especially during the pandemic.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday In 2022
Inflation concerns weighed on shoppers’ minds in 2022, with a RetailMeNot survey revealing plans to purchase fewer items. Many started holiday shopping early, some even before Thanksgiving. Online shopping dominated as consumers adapted to the evolving retail landscape.
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