Out of the Red, Into the Black: Stories Behind Black Friday Sale

Out of the Red, Into the Black: Stories Behind Black Friday Sale

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you are excited to head out to your favorite store. It’s that time again to avail discounted deals and save a bundle. But you might be wondering, where did this celebration start? Why is it called “Black Friday”?

A Century-long Celebration

By the beginning of the 20th century, it was common for retailers to start the holiday shopping season early right after Thanksgiving. Going into the 1940s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt granted the request of business leaders to move the holiday back a week to commence the celebration at an earlier time. This ensured that the holiday sales can start even before December.

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Philadelphia’s Big Friday

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story about the origin of Black Friday initially referred to the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. As it goes; the economy went into the “red" after the financial loss experienced, and then into the “black” after gaining profits after Thanksgiving. In accounting practices, red ink is used to denote financial loss, while black ink is used to mark profit.

However, it was argued that the red-black narrative was inaccurate. It was mentioned in another story that the original birth of Black Friday comes from Philadelphia, during the Army-Navy football game held on Saturday following Thanksgiving yearly. As the color black connote, the moniker was used to describe the chaos that happened when a large number of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city for the said game that caused a major headache for the police. The mayhem was also abused by shoplifters, adding to the pain for the police.

As it was big in Philadelphia, the city’s merchants tried to change the name to “Big Friday” in 1961 to remove the negative connotation it brought. The alteration attempt was unsuccessful; in fact, in 1985, it was no longer in use nationwide. 

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In the late 1980s, retailers have found a way to take back Black Friday and turn it positive with their customers. Hence, the “red to black” holiday story and the mark of the financial rise of American stores was used.

The Retail Holidays

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Since the establishment of the tradition, the one-day sales galore transformed into a four-day holiday sale. This then gave birth to other retail holidays such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday to encourage shoppers to buy from small businesses in their localities and Cyber Monday to promote online shopping after Thanksgiving.

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