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What is Black Friday?

Updated on November 12, 2017
Ken Burgess profile image

Grew up on Cape Cod, Mass. Army Vet., Fmr. Director of Energy Conservation programs, RE Agent, resides today on the Space Coast, FL

November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving, is known as 'Black Friday'.

It is believed the term ‘Black Friday’ came about because not so many years ago department stores reported their highest profits for the year on that day. In bookkeeping (recording of losses and profits) terminology ‘in the red’ or red ink means you had loss, and ‘in the black’ or black ink means you had profit.

Another belief is that the term 'Black Friday' hails from the early 00s during the start of the internet explosion into everyone’s daily lives, the term was bantered about on the internet and the retailers picked up on it. Prior to its identity as ‘Black Friday’, people used to refer to the sales that stores would hold on the 24th as 'Day after Thanksgiving Sale' or some variation thereof.

Retail stores would publish ads in the newspaper and on tv on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving being a holiday for most Americans (school systems included), and it being near to a variety of holidays that fall in December in which family and friends exchange gifts and spend time with one another, (such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe), this became a preferred time over the years for people to do their ‘holiday shopping’.

In the last few years Black Friday has begun prior to the Friday after Thanksgiving with some stores starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving day itself, and some starting it as early as Monday. Today it is not surprising to see a Black Friday sale starting on Monday of Black Friday week.

Black Friday used to be the start of holiday shopping season when almost all major stores came out with big sales events, with the early bird specials to attract customers to come to their stores (over a competitor). It has evolved itself to a point where people will stand in line for hours before the stores are opened, to grab the bargains advertised.

With the current trends of consumers shopping more and more online, it remains to be seen if the trend of ‘mobbing’ department stores on Black Friday will continue.

Today most Black Friday sales are available online as well. And some online stores, such as Amazon, offer no alternative but to shop online.

However, some are in-store only Black Friday deals, and may not be available online. This is often the case for items that may be well stocked in the store, the items are likely to vary from store to store, region to region, even if part of a national chain like Walmart or Target.

To find out more information on Black Friday and like events try the links below:

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© 2017 Ken Burgess


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    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Nope, but we do watch out for e-tailer offers during Black Friday. Usually, time around Diwali festival (Between mid-October to early November) is when the sales shoot up, especially electronics and even gold with attractive offers/discounts.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 3 months ago from Florida


      Do you have a 'Black Friday' in India, or anything like it?

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      ...That reminded me of the time I was working at an outsource center for Target Stores. We used to get bombarded with guest queries all day long. I could literally imagine those crunching numbers.