Black Friday’s History: A Dark True Story

BLACK FRIDAY

The COVID-19 Pandemic, a large cloud, hangs over Black Friday this holiday season. A shopaholic might find the thrill of Black Friday sales enough to satisfy their needs. You won’t know why ” Black Saturday is so beloved.

You may be familiar with the origin story of Black Friday. It goes like this: Every year after Thanksgiving, tryptophan-happy shoppers flooded local shops and malls. The surge in spending enabled retailers to “go dark” for the whole year. The Friday following Thanksgiving was known as “Black Friday”, and it became the official beginning of the holiday season.

This was not the only meaning of the phrase. Before the retail industry gave Black Friday its modern twist, it had a darker meaning. Here are the reasons why “Black Friday”, is so popular.

The Origin Of Black Friday

It’s a sign that a day began with “black” because it is often a bad day. (Hello Black Monday). Black Friday was another similar term.

Black Friday was first introduced in 1869. It did not have anything to do Christmas shopping. It was the day gold prices crashed, causing a market crash. The U.S. economy felt the effects for many years.

Black Friday as we know it was first mentioned in Philadelphia sometime around the 1950s or 60s. Traffic officers were afraid to use the term because they thought it was too dangerous.

David Zyla (Emmy-winning stylist) said that the term was used by the Philadelphia Police Department to describe traffic jams at downtown retail stores. He also pointed out that the term was first published in 1966 in The American Philatelist magazine, which is a magazine for stamp collectors.

Further evidence indicates that the Philadelphia police invented this unflattering term. Joseph P. Barrett, a Philadelphia Bulletin reporter/feature writer, played a part in Black Friday’s usage. He wrote “This Friday was Black with Traffic”, a 1994 Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Local police did not hate this day. Zyla said that chaos was caused by the high ratio of sales staff to customers. Sales associates were known to call in sick to prolong their Thanksgiving weekend.

A clip entitled “Tips for Good Human Relationships for Factory Executives” that was archived was actually published in a 1951 issue Factory Management and Maintenance. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a time when there is a lot of absenteeism.

It’s not clear if Black Friday was popularized in 1951 or if the author was being clever. But one thing is certain: People don’t like that day.

Lipstick On Pig

The idea of using “Black Friday” to describe one of their biggest revenue days was not liked by retailers. They gave it a positive spin.

Zyla said that Friday is just one of many days that has gained new meanings through the years. As early as 1961, public relations professionals attempted to change the public’s perception of Black Friday. Public Relations News published an article about the efforts of a prominent PR executive to change the day’s perception from being “Black” to “Big”, in order for the day to be remembered as a day of family fun and shopping.

Although “Big Friday” wasn’t a huge success, it helped to keep the day positive. Black Friday is associated with black ink sales.

Zyla said that while retailers don’t care much about the origin of the name they sell, they do use the opportunity to increase sales through doorbuster or one-day-only promotions.

Black Friday is a major day for retailers but it is also a symbol of American consumerism. Over the years, violence and injuries have resulted from frenzied shoppers trying to get discount merchandise. Social distancing will ensure that shoppers don’t have to deal with gridlock or overcrowded shops. As the pandemic causes financial ruin, it will be difficult for businesses and individuals to ignore.

Participating in the biggest shopping day of the year is a way to show compassion. Staying at home can help you score great deals. If you must go out, wear a mask. Don’t let it discourage you if you are having trouble making ends meet. Black Friday isn’t the holiday that you think it is.

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