Black Friday: The Darkest Holiday of the Year

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 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.