How ‘Black Friday’ got its name

Shoppers scrambling for deals at a recent Black Friday. Photo courtesy:

The start of the holiday shopping season is marked by Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving.

It is one of the most important shopping days in the United States, falling between Nov. 23 and 29 every year. The date for Black Friday this year is Nov. 26. Even though it is not an official national holiday, many employees receive the day off — except, of course, those who work in retail.

The name “Black Friday” was coined In Philadelphia. The packed streets in the City of Brotherly Love in the 1960s, clogged with automobiles and pedestrians headed to the Army-Navy football game and shopping for deals after Thanksgiving, were dubbed “Black Friday” by police. According to, Philadelphia’s top department stores tried to change the name to “Big Friday” to avoid the wrong connotation, but the rebranding failed.

In a non-retail context, it also refers to the 1869 financial crisis triggered by gold watchers who attempted but failed to corner the gold market, leading the market to collapse and stocks to fall.

According to, “The term ‘Black Friday’ was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. ‘Black’ refers to stores moving from the ‘red’ to the ‘black,’ back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss and black a profit.

“Ever since the start of the modern New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.”

Companies discovered they could draw enormous crowds by lowering prices, and Black Friday became the day to shop, even better than those last-minute Christmas reductions. Some businesses put their things on sale the morning of Thanksgiving, while others send out online deals to customers days or weeks ahead of time. Electronics and popular toys are the most sought-after commodities, as they may be the most heavily reduced. On the other hand, the vast bargains include price reductions on everything from home furnishings to clothing.

Traditionally, many stores would open their doors to throngs of customers waiting outside their windows on Thanksgiving Day. Following the pandemic, though, a tendency to stay closed on Thanksgiving and open early on Friday has grown.

Online Black Friday deals often begin simultaneously, or even a little earlier, as in-store sales for individuals who don’t want to stand in line outside of stores. Shoppers should expect to see a lot of door-busters — items at such reduced rates that the merchant may not earn a profit — both online and in stores to tempt them. Most large stores make their Black Friday ad scans, coupons, and deals available online ahead of time so that customers may learn about bargains and make plans. Others adopt a different tactic, holding off on releasing their Black Friday advertising until the last possible moment in the hopes of creating a buzz and keeping shoppers waiting for an announcement.

Consumers are increasingly opting to purchase online rather than in the early morning chill with a swarm of other Christmas shoppers or fight over the final item on their wish list. Although this has been happening for years, the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 drove more people online than ever before.