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The History of Black Friday

For the past couple of weeks, the media and retailers have been promoting "Black Friday." This is the day after Thanksgiving when stores supposedly slash their prices to give customers great deals leading into Christmas.

What I find interesting is that the word "black" is used. Now I understand black is used to indicate financial profits while red reflects financial losses but how many people know that "Black Friday" started out as a negative?

Originally, September 24, 1869 was deemed Black Friday; a day of stock market catastrophe. In the 1960's, the Philadelphia Police Dept. used the term "Black Friday" to refer to the massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores were mobbed from opening to closing. Police officers were not happy about the fact that they would have to "protect and serve" these shopaholics.

Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year so they came up with an alternative theory---which the media bought into. The perception would be that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period where retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year's profits (the black).

Isn't it amazing how we can be brainwashed into believing a theory? If they can do that with "Black Friday" certainly "black" can be reflected as a positive in other ways don't you think?


Hi, Beverly!

thanks for sharing the history of Black Friday.

I didn't know that at one time it had a negative connotation. Being in retail for 28 years, I always knew it to mean to "get out of the red." Funny how we think about things in different ways based upon our own conceptions and of course the media.

Have a great day...

Kathy said…
They can call it anything they want - I still associate Black Friday with the original stock market crash, and also with the one in the last 1980's. It's a negative term to me.

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