Black Friday is when stores set the tone for the holiday shopping season, making it one of the most important days of the year for retailers.
And while we bet you’ve heard all the hype, been inundated by TV commercials and buried by the print ads in your Sunday paper, we found a few interesting tidbits about retail’s biggest day of the year that you probably didn’t know about.
Black Friday was named after a stock market panic
When gold prices plunged in 1864, people freaked out. Termed “Black Friday” by the people of the time, that day was a worrisome one for investors.
Fast forward about a century to the 1960s, when some reporters at a Philadelphia paper used the phrase to describe the retail rush we know it as today, which pushes successful stores’ sales into the black.
In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week for retailers, but shoppers hated it
The holiday shopping blitz came into its own in the first half of the 20th century, prompting retailers to ask President Franklin Roosevelt to push up Thanksgiving, which traditionally signals the start of prime gift-buying time.
He obliged, setting a second Thanksgiving a week before the first (though he didn’t announce it until October, and it was known as “Franksgiving”). But people hated it, and there was little economic boost. Now, obviously, we’re back down to just one Thanksgiving.
The term “Black Friday” was popularised thanks to college football
In the 1970s, the New York Times ran a piece about the storied Army-Navy football rivalry.
In it, Philadelphia police and bus drivers referred to the day between Thanksgiving and the big game, which is traditionally on Saturday, as “Black Friday” because of the heavy traffic the game brought. Clearly, it stuck, albeit in a different way.
Black Friday is such a big deal because of Thanksgiving parades
Dating back to the late 19th century, store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades (think: Macy’s) have signaled the start of the holiday season.
Bringing up the rear at the processions, there was usually a Santa Claus figure, who declared the holiday shopping season had begun. That gave the all-clear to retailers to start their aggressive ad campaigns.
People have actually died because of massive mobs of rabid shoppers on Black Friday
A horde of anxious shoppers trampled a store clerk at a New York Walmart in 2008, killing him.
Ahead of the store’s scheduled 5 a.m. opening, workers had to call in crowd control to regulate the unruly masses. But it was apparently useless.
Five minutes before the store was set to open, 2,000 would-be shoppers banged against doors until they eventually just shattered. When the doors burst open, chaos ensued and 34-year-old clerk Jdimytai Damour was crushed by people more concerned with getting a good deal than helping him — or even just stepping around him.
“Cyber Monday” is now trying to get in on the Black Friday action
With the rise of online shopping, Internet-based retailers have found a way to cash in on the deal-hungry shoppers looking for low prices after Thanksgiving.
In 2005, the National Retail Federation coined the term now synonymous with the likes of Amazon. And it appears shoppers enjoy the convenience of shopping at home — Cyber Monday sales in North America reportedly draw 4.3 million visitors to online stores every minute.
Occupy Black Friday has officially become a movement
In keeping with the Occupy Wall Street movement, activists are calling on shoppers to skip Black Friday altogether.
The rationale is to cut down on sales for big-name retailers, but that’s a tough sell to the die-hards who will be hitting the stores as early as Thursday night.
The cities that go craziest for Black Friday span the nation
Based on the total number of visits to retailers on Black Friday and the number of visits made per capita, these cities host the most shoppers on retail’s biggest day: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, Minneapolis and Phoenix.
This year, several stores moved Black Friday to Thanksgiving night and caused a ruckus
Several big retailers opted to start their Black Friday festivities on Thanksgiving night instead of the usual Friday morning, much to the outrage of employees and labour advocates.
Nearly 200,000 people signed a petition calling on the stores to reverse their decision.
But all systems go, say the stores, who are introducing a whole new level of crazy to the Black Friday tradition.
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