Are you planning to shop at the shops on Black Friday? Log onto your preferred e-commerce portal, or mobile app, or log on to the store.
Statisticians say that you have a good chance of doing both. The National Retail Federation estimates that 164 million people planned to shop online and in-store during Thanksgiving weekend 2018. Black Friday was the most visited shopping day. Three out of four Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were planning to shop in-store or online.
Black Friday is so popular. It’s the traditional kickoff for the holiday shopping season. It’s been the best day of the year to get great deals on the hottest toys, games, and electronics. To see why you don’t need to look further than our Black Friday shopping list. It includes the best Black Friday deals every year.
This holiday shopping event is ideal for budget-conscious shoppers. It’s odd that this holiday has become the most popular American shopping holiday. However, it’s not hard to find great deals on holiday gifts all year.
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I have been curious about Black Friday’s origins and evolution for a long time, so I decided I would investigate it myself. Here are the things I discovered.
Black Friday: History
It helps to understand the origins of Black Friday by placing it within the larger context of the holiday shopping season.
Origins of the Holiday Shopping Season
Although holiday gift-giving has a long history, the
holiday shopping season was created by 20th-century consumer culture.
Parade of Sponsors
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a New York City tradition that takes place every Thanksgiving morning. This huge parade, which is watched by millions across the United States, was just one of many Thanksgiving weekend parades.
These parades were very popular in the mid-20th century and attracted large crowds in major cities as well as smaller towns. Many parades were sponsored by national or local retailers, just like the Macy’s Parade. That meant mostly department stores back in those days. It was simple: Department stores attached their names to the most prominent events on the pre-holiday schedule, reminding their customers that they are open for business during the holiday shopping season. The official start of the holiday season was marked by Thanksgiving parades.
The Holiday Shopping Calendar
President Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth Thursday of November 1863 when he issued the proclamation declaring the establishment of the holiday. It remained that way until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive decree to move Thanksgiving to November 4th. To make the change official, Congress passed legislation in 1941.
Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving one week earlier than expected. Congress did not agree to this change. Because of a strong coalition of retailers and other business interests asking them to.
The holiday shopping season was then synonymous with the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If Thanksgiving fell on November 30th, like it did in 1939 then that leaves only 24 holiday shopping days. Sometimes, there are fewer because many stores close on Sundays back then. This worried retailers and other retail-adjacent businesses who feared that holiday shoppers would shop less during a shorter season.
Their pitch to Roosevelt was more egalitarian. A longer holiday shopping period would be beneficial for the American economy. This sounds a bit dubious, but it is true that the United States was still trying to recover from the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Regardless of its economic merits, Roosevelt was sold. The official beginning of the holiday shopping season was marked by Black Friday.
Who was the First to Say “Black Friday”?
Black Friday was a term that existed before e-commerce, suburban malls, and city-center department shops. According to The History Channel, the first documented use of “Black Friday” was not related to holiday shopping.
Two unscrupulous oligarchs plotted to seize the American gold market in 1869. This was the foundation for the U.S. Dollar. The scheme was so complex and extensive that Ulysses S. Grant’s relatives were also implicated. On Friday, September 24, the plot unraveled, sending the U.S. financial markets reeling, ruining many investors, and threatening the wider economy. This dark day became known as “Black Friday.”
It would be nearly a century before “Black Friday”, as it is now known, gained its current connotation. The long-held belief is that retailers adopted the name “Black Friday” to refer to the day following Thanksgiving because of the high volume of shopping through online offline and buy the best things like buy gaming chair, which invariably led to a boost in their financials for the year. Although it makes sense, the evidence doesn’t support this claim.