Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Every year in America, Black Friday generates billions. Holiday shopping accounts for 30% of all retail sales annually and is absolutely crucial for our economy. Known today for it's history of bringing retailer profits out of the red, (negative), and into the black, (positive). But that wasn't always the case. Behind "Black Friday" is a dark past.
The term originated from the mid 19th century financial crisis. Two wallstreet financiers developed a scheme to drive up gold prices by buying as much as they could in hopes of creating a higher demand for it. But instead of driving up it's value, they crashed the market, taking the stock market along with it causing millions of people to go bankrupt. So from then on Friday, September 24th was known as Black Friday.
The next time the term was heard was later in the 20th century. Business owners began calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving resulting in deplorable productivity and crippling the economy. It wasn't until the 1950's that it became associated with shopping. Philadelphia police were struggling to maintain control of an unruly mob that had flooded the streets in search of pre-holiday discounts before an Army-Navy football game.
It wasn't until the 1990's that "Black Friday" took on a more positive connotation. Retailers began opening their doors at midnight, many of them staying open round the clock to satisfy the appetites of hungry consumers ready to spend tons of money on things they really shouldn't. It became such a profitable time for retailers, some states even declared it a federal holiday so that government employees could get in on the pre-holiday sales. Doorbusters and Black Friday sales sparked a world-wide trend that is still as popular today as when it started.
Black Friday became such a success in America that retailers began opening their doors on Thanksgiving night. Things took a violent turn in the early 2000s when discount crazed consumers were often seen camping outside of retail stores to ensure they got what they wanted before it was sold out. Since 2006, there have been 111 injuries and 10 deaths directly related to the Black Friday madness.
The chart bellow is from in article in reviews.org that breaks down where Black Friday incidents have taken place.
Wal-Mart comes in at #1. Over three times higher than any other retailer. Here's a look at the type of incidents that have taken place:
The same article ranks states in order based on their risk for Black Friday violence. California comes in at #7. So those of you thinking about shopping in store this year, might want to consider doing so online- or at least bring a pair of boxing gloves, pepper spray or a body guard.
But it isn't all bad. Those of you "play it safer's" can still experience pre-holiday discounts without all the Black Friday bedlam. Retailers picked up on the online shopping trend and began extending their Black Friday sales through Monday for online shoppers. And thus was the birth of Cyber Monday.
Five years later American Express came up with Small Business Saturday. A day dedicated to small businesses. In 2011, the credit card company offered local businesses free online advertising. By 2015, nearly 100 million shoppers spent over $16 billion at local shops and restaurants.
Wherever you decide to do your pre-holiday shopping is up to you. Retailers have made it easier than ever to shop in a multitude of different ways. The choice is yours. But whatever you do, please, be careful. Black Friday madness will be everywhere. My advise to you is this:
-Take a deep breathe.
-Try to prepare yourself for the madness.
-Get a good nights sleep on Thanksgiving.
-Try not to overspend.
-And above all: have Fun!
After all, it is the holidays!