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Why Is Black Friday Called Black Friday?

Updated on September 26, 2011
A Target store in the early hours of November 26, 2010, AKA Black Friday 2010.
A Target store in the early hours of November 26, 2010, AKA Black Friday 2010. | Source

Black Friday has come to be about as important a national holiday as Thanksgiving. After all, it seems both Thanksgiving and Black Friday generate about equal amounts of attention and discussion every November.

If anything, Black Friday may even edge out Thanksgiving in terms of column inches filled by newspapers and air time on television news programs. That's probably only fitting, seeing as the U.S. economy is built upon consumer spending and Black Friday is the holiest of shopping's high holidays.

Black Friday has become as integral a piece of the Thanksgiving holiday as turkey and football, so what is Black Friday, and why is it called Black Friday?

Black Friday is the name retailers have given the shopping day after Thanksgiving. While Black Friday is mostly a marketing term today — a marketing concept that's accompanied by "door buster" sales and huge promotions — it once had a very different connotation.

Yes, Black Friday has always been about shopping, but it was originally coined in the 1960s because the day after Thanksgiving was the day that a great number of retailers started to turn a profit for the year — to operate in the black as opposed to operating at a loss or in the red. Hence Black Friday.

As commercial as this day after Thanksgiving has come to be, Black Friday has apparently been a commercial day for decades, if not longer.

And as Black Friday gains prominence, it's appears to be hijacking that final weekend in November, which many now call Black Friday weekend rather than Thanksgiving weekend.

That's probably only fitting, since the great deals and sales are apt to last longer than your Leftovers.

Black Friday tragedies

The Dark Side of Black Friday

For most people who participate, Black Holiday is a fun event. Black Friday is a time of comeraderie as folks wait in the dark, cold morning waiting for a store to open, and it's a time of good-natured competition over particularly hot deals.

Black Friday also has been a time of tragedy, betraying the ugly side of American consumerism.

Several years ago, there was a Black Friday stampede at a MIchigan Wal-Mart in which a pregnant woman was injured as a waiting crowd rushed the doors as the store opened.

2008 had the unfortunate distinction of logging the first Black Friday casualty when a seasonal temp worker at a Wal-Mart in Long Island was trampled to death. That same year two men at a Toys R Us near Palm Springs shot each other.

CBS editorial on a 2008 Black Friday fatality


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    • sallyhatcher profile image

      sallyhatcher 6 years ago from Golden, Colorado

      Lots of deals and offers are waiting on 2011 Black Friday

    • profile image

      Sarah Hill 6 years ago

      Interesting! Luckily I have never experienced the "dark side". I tend to check for the sneak peaks, then get-in-and-get-out at my top places.

    • rotl profile image

      rotl 7 years ago from Florida

      I thought that's where the name came from but wasn't sure. We were just talking about this on thanksgiving.

    • Urbane Chaos profile image

      Eric Standridge 7 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma

      Now that was interesting.. I've always heard the term, but never knew exactly where it came from.