Friday is “Black Friday.”
For many American consumers, it is the day after Thanksgiving when you can get great deals on goods that may eventually become Christmas presents.
But why is it “black” Friday?
There are a couple of stories. But the most commonly cited one has to do with ink, paper, and accounting.
From Wikipedia (emphasis ours):
Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year. By the early 1980s, an alternative theory began to be circulated: 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. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year’s profits (the black). The earliest known use that presents the “black ink theory” appeared in the edition of November 28, 1981 of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
If the day is the year’s biggest for retailers, why is it called Black Friday? Because it is a day retailers make profits — black ink, said Grace McFeeley of Cherry Hill Mall. “I think it came from the media,” said William Timmons of Strawbridge & Clothier. “It’s the employees, we’re the ones who call it Black Friday,” said Belle Stephens of Moorestown Mall. “We work extra hard. It’s a long hard day for the employees.”
This, like the 1961 and 1966 examples from Philadelphia, above, was found by Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society.
The Christmas shopping season is of enormous importance to American retailers and, while most retailers intend to and actually do make profits during every quarter of the year, some retailers are so dependent on the Christmas shopping season that the quarter including Christmas produces all the year’s profits and compensates for losses from other quarters.
So there you have it. It’s about how much money retailers are making from you and me.
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