Shopping for gifts is part of the holiday tradition for many people. In fact, a holiday season that passes without a person spending time in crowded malls may not really feel like a holiday. Retailers bring out all the decorations, music and special promotions to get consumers to put on their holiday cheer and open their wallets. Black Friday in particular is especially important to retailers, as it is known as the biggest shopping day of the year.

Black Friday 2019 falls on Friday, November 29th !

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is known to many is the official start of Christmas shopping and big holiday deals. Many stores open in the early hours of the morning on this day to offer special Black Friday deals for consumers and to help kick off the holiday shopping season. Many stores open as early as 4 a.m. and customers have been known to line up the night before and sleep outside the store so they do not miss the first deals of the day.

Black Friday has been used to describe various events historically, most notably the United States financial crisis of 1869. In 1966, a Philadelphia newspaper noted that Black Friday had been assigned by Philadelphia’s Police Department as a negative term during Christmas, to describe the terribly overcrowded streets, massive traffic, and huge mobs shopping at all of the downtown stores.

Some also say that years ago, when accounting records were kept by hand, profits were recorded in black pen, and losses were recorded in red. Many retailers were “in the black” for the first time each year once the Christmas shopping season started, and this is thought to be another theory of where the name and association to shopping originated.

However, over time, Black Friday has come to earn a positive meaning however, based on delighted shoppers who find great bargains and get their holiday shopping done early. Many also speculate that stores refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday since many retailers operate at a loss through the bulk of the year, with the holiday season bringing the majority of profits.

What is the Big Deal?

Black Friday has earned a spot on many shoppers’ calendars for several reasons. Since Thanksgiving is the last major holiday before Christmas, the day after signifies the start of a shopping season filled with Christmas cheer and no other holidays to cause worry. Also, retailers know that many employees have Friday off, and since it is not a regular weekend day off, many people will use this “free” day to get a head start on Christmas shopping before they start their regular weekend routines or go back to work. This works to the advantage of consumers, since every retailer wants to take advantage of the extra sales opportunities during the holiday season, and almost every retailer nationwide offers some sort of discount or promotion on Black Friday.

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday always takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving break, which increases the number of potential customers for retailers who offer special discounts and deals on Black Friday. Since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest day for retailers each year.

The Current Expansion of Black Friday Sales

Black Friday sales had historically extended through the whole week following Thanksgiving, until retailers realized this reduced the sense of urgency by consumers. Over time, sales have become concentrated into one or two days. Recently, retailers have begun extending normal store hours even more, attempting to keep up with, or gain an edge over competition. Some stores even start their Black Friday sales at midnight on Thanksgiving, and in 2010 the Toys “R” Us chain started offering Black Friday deals at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Additionally, as an incentive, Toys “R” Us offered consumers free coloring books and boxes of Crayola crayons until supplies ran out. Also in 2010, the clothing chain Forever 21 opened at the normal time on Friday morning, and ran sales all day until 2 a.m. Saturday morning to take full advantage of Black Friday.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday happens the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend and is a natural extension to maximize the popularity of Black Friday weekend. Invented by the National Retail Federation in 2005, the term “cyber monday” was coined to describe a growing trend recognized by retailers beginning in 2003. Many shoppers who either did not find what they wanted on Black Friday or over the weekend, or simply just did not have the time to get out and shop, would use the internet to shop for online bargains on Monday from work or home.

Cyber Thanksgiving

An even more recent shopping term, cyber Thanksgiving, has evolved from retailers’ ongoing efforts to find more opportunities to grab sales. Online retailers have begun offering online promotions on Thanksgiving day, as the beginning of a five-day shopping spree of online deals for bargain hunters. It began when shoppers started searching online early, looking for hints of sales and deals to be offered on Black Friday. Once they arrived at the retailer websites, however, they would see several deals and promotions on the website along with free shipping. More consumers each year have been choosing to take advantage of these online deals, especially if they find exactly what they were looking for, rather than participating in the crowds and madness that is Black Friday.

Always Be Careful on Black Friday!

Many films over time have shown a comedic drama of the shopping chaos that happens during the holidays as everyone clambers after that must-have gift. In reality, recent shopping seasons have shown a substantial increase in Black Friday injuries stemming from consumer chaos by people trying to make sure they get their share of Black Friday deals. In 2006, a security video at Best Buy recorded one shopper assaulting another customer in the store.

For example, At a Wal-Mart in Ohio, several employees were pinned against merchandise due to crowds flooding in the front doors when the store opened. In 2008, at another Wal-Mart more than 2,000 shoppers waited for the doors open at 5 a.m.. When the doors finally opened, the mob rushed in, broke down the door and trampled an employee, causing his death. None of the shoppers showed concern for the victim, continuing to rush in the store while other employees tried to help the fallen employee. Shoppers had started lining up at approximately 9 p.m. the night before. Several other incidents have happened at various stores in the last few years, causing people to be hospitalized. In 2010, a Target store in New York experienced a similar incident to the deadly 2008 Wal-Mart trampling death, when a man was trampled and severely injured on Black Friday.