The Bewildering Black Friday History

How Black Friday came to be is an interesting story.

We all know about Black Friday shopping. The best Black Friday deals of 2018 have been everywhere for months now! It’s one of the biggest shopping days of the entire year. It’s certainly a big day for us at Mattress Omni! A lot of us are searching for early Black Friday sales, one-of-a-kind TV deals, brand-new furniture on sale. And, because we know we need these, a great deal on memory foam mattresses for ourselves and the entire family.

Besides asking ourselves, “Where are the best Black Friday deals of 2018?” a few of us ask, “How did it all come to be?”

Why did the sales become such a big thing? Even with Black Friday Canada deals? With shoppers lining up on the Friday of the Thanksgiving Day long weekend to swoop down on such incredible bargains?

The Black Friday origin is fascinating, and a history worth mentioning. Because after all, the biggest shopping day of the year doesn’t just become a holiday tradition out of thin air. Especially next to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the turkey dinner or the family gathering, without the interesting history behind it.

First, why is the date called Black Friday?

 

Many retailers consider it to mark the day of the year when a store turns a profit. Instead of being ‘in the red,’ or losing money, this is the time of the year which marks the point where stores show a profit or are ‘in the black.’ What pushes stores over that edge is the holiday shopping season.

Yet somehow the history of Black Friday gets more involved and interesting than just a positive turn of profits for store owners.

‘Black Friday’ was first a term for the infamous day of September 24, 1869. According to an archive cartoon and article shared by The New York Times, two Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould, and Jim Fisk, manipulate the gold market and cause a huge collapse in Wall Street when they are caught. Thankfully over time, the term Black Friday gets a much more positive spin. But not after many years and lots of changes to the common vernacular.

Though it does not have the name Black Friday yet, it’s said the first sales begin after department stores have the bright idea of sponsoring their own Thanksgiving Day parades. Traditionally the holiday shopping season starts the day after Thanksgiving. To celebrate, department stores host their own Thanksgiving Day parades in most major cities.

Black Friday and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
Retail stores begin to sponsor the Thanksgiving day parades, sparking the Black Friday sales.

The Balance writes that Eaton’s in Toronto hosts one of the first Thanksgiving Day parades back in 1905. It was an idea that catches on with other department stores, including Macy’s of New York City. Macy’s launches their first parade in 1924. To this day, according to Variety, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade draws in over 3.5 million spectators and over 22.3 million TV viewers!

Thanksgiving becomes such a huge deal for department stores, furniture stores, mattress retailers and holiday shoppers over the years. Because of this, Politico writes, in 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt gives into the retailer’s requests to move the Thanksgiving holiday to the next to last Thursday of November. This gives retailers more time to sell for the holiday season. While there is chaos at first, by 1941 the holiday’s date is final.

It Wasn’t Always a Celebration

 

Eventually, Black Friday becomes an adopted term for the day when stores finally show a profit. But it was first used to denote a more resigned, exasperated feeling. It also develops into a term police officers, cab drivers, city workers and civil servants who deal with the sudden surge of busy holiday shoppers use, in an ironic state.

The term is first used in such context in the city of Philadelphia. A 1961 Philadelphia public relations letter is the first to officially reference Black Friday. The influx of people in for the holidays and the traditional Army-Navy football game adds chaos to an already busy city at the time.

According to an excerpt from History, the police in Philadelphia have to work lots of overtime to handle everything, rather than getting the day off. Indeed, “Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.”

We’d be mad too.

That same letter notes Black Friday as having negative connotations and suggested ‘Big Friday’ and ‘Big Saturday’ in substitution. Though, it never caught on in significance. The public does begin to view the term in a more positive light as the money rolls in over time.

Black Friday deals in a retail mall.
Black Friday deals can create absolute chaos from the public trying to save a few bucks.

It is from the ’60s onwards people view the term in a more positive light. It takes a while to turn Black Friday from a term of derision to a term of endearment. By the 1980s, Black Friday goes through one of the biggest public relations rehabilitations any phenomenon has ever seen. As retailers and shoppers took advantage of the sales on the busiest shopping day of the year, they used the Black Friday term to denote that day.

“…Retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers,” the History article shares. “The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s darker roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event. Plus, spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday.”

Just Keeps Growing and Growing

 

Stores start to advertise Black Friday as a major shopping day. Many businesses, rather than deal with the sheer number of employees who call in sick or used vacation days to partake on some holiday shopping, just threw their hands up and gave their employees the day off.

Black Friday grows from a one-day sale into a weekend-long event for many stores as the new millennium came. Black Friday spreads throughout the world.

As Black Friday turns into Billion Dollar Friday for many, stores try to one-up their competition with bigger sales. In the new millennium, stores begin to push the boundaries of Black Friday to bring in more business. Stores start opening at 5 am instead of 6 am to bring in more customers.

CNN writes about how Kmart is made famous (or infamous) when they announce in 2013, they are going to open their department stores at 6:00 am on Thanksgiving Day. Getting a full day’s jump on the competition with their own Black Friday sales, but not everyone is impressed with the decision. Employees and shoppers alike would have to work and shop on Thanksgiving Day.

The public loves Black Friday deals, maybe a bit too much sometimes.
Bad behavior can come from the crazy Black Friday deals.

However, the Thanksgiving Day sale was readily adopted by the likes of Wal-Mart and other major retailers. States that prohibited stores being open on Thanksgiving Day waited until midnight to start their Black Friday sales.

Black Friday is clearly not without its controversies. The non-profit outlet The Conversation has even written about their research done on the subject, showing just how bad it can be and why. The combination of deep discounts, early openings, big crowds, and desperation to snatch deals can lead to bad behaviour.

A few other major points it shares is sleep deprivation, different aptitudes for self-control, anger and emotional responses only increase the chaos.

That’s probably why Black Friday can get the credit for the birth of Cyber Monday, the biggest day in online sales for e-commerce companies. After all, why fight the crowds (sometimes literally) when you can sit at home and take advantage of many great online shopping deals in the comfort of your own home?

No More Need to Leave Home

 

Mattress stores aren’t immune to the Black Friday mattress madness. Every major brand of mattress, from Simmons to Serta to Tempurpedic and Sealy love to give great mattress discounts. Even the online mattress stores like Casper, Endy, Tuft & Needle, and Mattress Omni have deals on memory foam mattresses and innerspring mattresses.

Wherever you go this long weekend, or even if you stay cozy in bed the whole time. You don’t have to go far for a great Black Friday haul.

Online shopping with Mattress Omni.
You don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to get great deals with Mattress Omni this Black Friday.

Just remember, no need to go out in the cold and fight crowds for amazing deals on memory foam mattresses.

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We’ll see you on Friday, mattress shoppers and sleep connoisseurs for the best Black Friday deals!

 

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