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Black Friday: The Origin of Its Name and More

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The season for holiday shopping is just around the corner, starting with Black Friday. Although it is unofficial, it does not stop commercial establishments from offering various types of promotions, discount sales, and other marketing ploys to entice consumers to shop early.

As such, Black Friday is one of the year’s busiest shopping days, especially if you’re talking about customer traffic. In terms of sales, though, the few days before Christmas Day generate the highest revenues for stores. But have you ever wondered how Black Friday came about and who started the tradition?

The beginning of the biggest shopping day

It is difficult to ascertain the exact date when the Friday after Thanksgiving began to be ”the big day” for shopping. In all probability, the tradition started in the latter part of the 19th century. Back then, parades for Thanksgiving were already sponsored by big department stores, where Santa Claus is at the end of the parade with floats and marching bands.

Storeowners at that time had an informal agreement among themselves to start the holiday shopping season after Thanksgiving. The understanding forbids them from holding aggressive promotions and advertisements for holiday sales. But even without announcements, people are already used to the sales event, so they rush to the stores as soon as they open on Friday.

A petition

Black Friday could be the result of the appeal of the Retail Dry Goods Association in 1939. They told Pres. Roosevelt that retail sales would drastically go down if they start the holiday shopping season after Thanksgiving. The president responded by moving the date of Thanksgiving a week earlier.

However, the change in date did not receive a favorable response among consumers and other stores. The announcement was given late in October, and by the, people would have already made travel plans. They celebrated Thanksgiving on the usual date, and most people took days off on both times.

The U.S. Congress resolved the issue by passing a law in 1941 that made the fourth Thursday the official day to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Different meanings of Black Friday

The term Black Friday means differently according to the people who use it. Many consumers think that it comes from the retailers whose bottom lines remain ”in the black” because of the enormous receipts they generate on that particular day.

But researchers have another point of view. They believe the term came from Philadelphia during the mid 1960s. It was traditional in the city to hold an Army-Navy football match on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Thus, the Friday shopping event added to the hectic series of activities.

With more people out during those three days, retailers enjoyed a big boost in sales. However, police officers, residents, and cab drivers found it challenging to navigate the streets in the city because of the traffic buildup. Police officers coined the word because they could not get a day off and had to sort the bedlam caused by commuters and pedestrians.

But before the term Black Friday became popularly associated with holiday shopping, it referred to the financial crisis in 1869. Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and James (Jim) Fisk, speculated that the price of gold would soar and bought a large amount of U.S. gold. They thought that they could make more money later after selling the gold. However, on September 24, 1869, which was a Friday, the gold market in the U.S. crashed, and many financiers became bankrupt because of the two gold speculators. That day became known as Black Friday.

The popularity of Black Friday

The association of Black Friday with shopping started in the latter part of the 1980s.

Black Friday’s popularity reached the UK in 2010, spreading towards Germany, Romania, Norway, France, India, and Brazil. It even has different names in other languages. In the United Arab Emirates, shops offer discounts on “White Friday” while Mexicans call their version of Black Friday as ”El Buen Fin.”

Sales deals and price-offs are sure baits for consumers. People line up in front of shops very early in the morning to ensure that they can quickly enter the stores as soon as they open their doors. Shoppers should consider their safety when shopping on Black Friday, as there are so many accidents that occur as shoppers rush into the shops, with some fighting over specific items.

Reach more customers on Black Friday

eTranslation Services provides high quality and accurate translations in different languages so you can talk to your target consumers in their own language. You can avail of our Black Friday 15% discount for all translation services. Contact us by email at [email protected] or give us a call at (800) 882-6058.

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