The Black Friday (Shopping)

Black Friday, a post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition, is a consumer frenzy characterized by massive discounts and early morning store openings. This annual event, originating in the United States, has since spread worldwide. Shoppers hunt for bargains both in-store and online, often braving long lines and chaotic scenes. However, in recent years, the rise of e-commerce has reshaped the Black Friday landscape, with many consumers opting for the convenience of online deals. While Black Friday remains a retail spectacle, its significance in the modern shopping calendar continues to evolve.

APA 7: TWs Editor & ChatGPT. (2023, September 29). The Black Friday (Shopping). PerEXP Teamworks. [Article Link]

Black Friday, an annual shopping extravaganza that grips the world, has become a hallmark of consumer culture. This article delves into the history, significance, and mechanics of Black Friday, exploring its roots, the origins of its name, the evolution of this retail phenomenon, and the logistics of when it starts and ends.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual shopping event that originated in the United States and is now observed in various parts of the world. It falls on the day following Thanksgiving Day, which is the fourth Thursday of November. During Black Friday, retailers offer significant discounts and promotions on a wide range of products, from electronics to clothing and beyond. This event marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and is characterized by long lines, early store openings, and a surge in consumer spending. It’s a critical period for both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers, with consumers seeking to take advantage of the year’s lowest prices on various items. The term “Black Friday” originally referred to the point at which retailers began to turn a profit for the year, moving from “in the red” to “in the black” due to increased sales. Today, it signifies a shopping frenzy and a cultural phenomenon associated with bargain hunting.

Why is it called Black Friday?

The term “Black Friday” has its origins in the United States and dates back to the early to mid-20th century. There are several theories about how this name came to be associated with the post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza.

One widely accepted theory is that the name “Black Friday” was coined by police officers in Philadelphia in the 1960s. It was used to describe the chaotic and congested traffic conditions that occurred on the day after Thanksgiving. The influx of suburban shoppers and tourists into the city for the Army-Navy football game, which traditionally took place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, created massive gridlock and headaches for law enforcement. The police officers reportedly referred to this day as “Black Friday” due to the challenging and often “black” traffic conditions it brought.

On the day following Thanksgiving, shoppers in Philadelphia rush into a convenience store in an enthusiastic frenzy. (North Coast Courier)

Another theory suggests that the term “Black Friday” originated from the retail industry itself. In this context, “black” would signify a shift from operating “in the red” (at a loss) to operating “in the black” (at a profit). Retailers traditionally recorded their losses in red ink and profits in black ink. Black Friday, in this interpretation, marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season when retailers expect to turn a significant profit.

Over the years, “Black Friday” has evolved to represent one of the busiest and most lucrative shopping days of the year, characterized by massive sales, discounts, and promotions. It has since spread beyond the United States to become a global shopping phenomenon, even though its origins are rooted in historical traffic congestion and retail accounting practices.

Historical context of Black Friday

The historical context of Black Friday, the shopping phenomenon we know today, is a multifaceted story that combines economic, cultural, and retail history.

  1. Origin of the term: The term “Black Friday” is believed to have originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s. It was initially used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that occurred on the day after Thanksgiving. Philadelphia police officers used it to refer to the chaos associated with the influx of suburban shoppers and tourists.
  1. Retail association: Black Friday became associated with shopping and discounts due to its timing. Retailers saw an opportunity to kickstart the holiday shopping season by offering substantial discounts on this day. It marked the point in the year when retailers transitioned from being “in the red” (operating at a loss) to being “in the black” (making a profit).
  1. Evolution of tradition: Over the years, the day evolved into a shopping tradition, spreading from Philadelphia to other parts of the United States. Retailers began opening their stores early, sometimes even at midnight, to accommodate eager shoppers. Doorbuster deals and limited-time offers became the norm, leading to long lines and occasional shopping-related incidents.
  1. Cultural phenomenon: Black Friday transcended its retail origins to become a cultural phenomenon. It’s not only about shopping; it’s a social event. Families and friends often participate together, making it a part of the Thanksgiving holiday experience.
  1. Global expansion: Black Friday’s popularity grew, and it eventually spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and various parts of Europe. Some regions have embraced it wholeheartedly, while others have been more reserved in their adoption.
  1. Impact of online shopping: The rise of e-commerce and online retailers contributed to the changing landscape of Black Friday. Cyber Monday, the Monday following Black Friday, emerged as an online shopping counterpart.
  1. Controversies and challenges: Black Friday has not been without controversy. Some have criticized the commercialization and materialism associated with the day. Additionally, concerns about worker conditions and safety during the shopping frenzy have arisen.
  1. Black Friday today: Today, Black Friday is a major event for retailers and consumers alike. It has extended beyond a single day, with many stores offering deals throughout the week, starting on Thanksgiving Day itself. The event’s impact on annual retail sales is substantial, making it a critical period for businesses.

In conclusion, Black Friday’s historical context reveals its evolution from a local traffic-related term to a global shopping extravaganza. It reflects changes in retail practices, consumer behavior, and the cultural significance of shopping in contemporary society.

When does Black Friday start and end?

Black Friday, the popular shopping event, traditionally begins on the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is the fourth Thursday of November. It is marked by significant discounts and promotions offered by retailers, both in physical stores and online. While Black Friday itself is a one-day event, it often extends into the weekend, with some sales and deals lasting through the weekend, culminating in what is known as “Cyber Monday,” a day focused on online shopping deals.

In recent years, the timeframe for Black Friday has expanded, with many retailers starting their sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing through the weekend. Some even begin their Black Friday sales earlier in the week or even the entire month of November. This extended duration allows consumers more flexibility to take advantage of discounts and promotions at various times leading up to and following Black Friday.

While the specific start and end times may vary by retailer and location, Black Friday remains a key period for holiday shopping, offering consumers the opportunity to find substantial savings on a wide range of products.

Black Friday has evolved from a post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition into a global retail phenomenon. Its name, rooted in history and theories, now signifies not only the start of the holiday shopping season but also a cultural and economic event. As shoppers eagerly anticipate the doorbusters and discounts, retailers strategize to make the most of this annual consumer extravaganza. Black Friday, with its rich history and ever-expanding reach, remains a testament to the power of consumerism and the changing dynamics of the retail landscape.


  1. NEWSPAPER Trex, E. (2018, November 22). A brief history of Black Friday. Mental Floss. [Mental Floss]
  2. JOURNAL Lichtenstein, D. R., Ridgway, N. M., & Netemeyer, R. G. (1993). Price Perceptions and Consumer Shopping Behavior: A Field study. Journal of Marketing Research, 30(2), 234. [Journal of Marketing Research]
  3. JOURNAL Çınar, D. (2020). “Black Friday” as a shopping event: A study on the motivational tendency of Generation Y consumers in digital environment. İzmir İktisat Dergisi, 35(3), 495–509. [İzmir İktisat Dergisi]
  4. BOOK Tsiotsou, R. H. (2017). “Black Friday”: Attitudes, behavior and intentions of Greek consumers. Springer.
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