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Steve Isenberg

A History Lesson on Black Friday

Posted on: November 20, 2018

By: Steve Isenberg

The term Black Friday, which we know and love in 2018, did not always refer to the Friday following the Thursday Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, the label once had a much more somber connotation as it referenced September 24, 1869, when thanks to Jay Gould and James Fisk, the stock market crashed.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has long been considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Retailers in the 1920s abided by a “gentleman’s agreement” to delay advertising holiday sales until that day. In the 50s, calling in sick to get a head start on gift buying became so rampant that many businesses decided to make Friday another paid holiday, creating the four-day weekend we enjoy today.

But it wasn’t until the late 1950s that “Black Friday” became associated loosely with Thanksgiving. Philadelphia police officers dubbed the day after turkey day as “Black Friday” to describe the chaos that erupted as hordes of shoppers and tourists flooded the city in anticipation of the Army-Navy football game held each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

In the early 60s, Philly merchants tried to change “Black Friday” to “Big Friday” to remove the negative connotations. Their efforts failed to either rename or reimage the day. However, by the mid-1980s, merchants found a way to reinvent “Black Friday,” resulting in the “red to black” concept that many a folk still believe to be the original notion behind the label.

Over the next twenty-some years, “Black Friday” became synonymous with incredible shopping deals, long checkout lines, packed parking lots, and crowded stores. Stores opened earlier and earlier each year, some just after midnight. And then in 2010, Sears opened on Thanksgiving Day. Wal-Mart followed suit in 2011. And Target joined the party in 2012.

While this expansion of the popular “Black Friday” promotion was seen by some as an encroachment on the Thanksgiving holiday, it was met with enthusiasm by shoppers. However, the trend in recent years has moved away from being open on Thanksgiving. In fact, since 2015 the number of stores choosing to remain closed on turkey day has increased each year.

TheBlackFriday.com site, in addition to noting deals and coupons, has compiled a list of stores who will not be catering to the pre-Black-Friday shopping crowd. The list also includes malls who will not flip over the OPEN sign on Thanksgiving Day. As of November 6, those include Mall of America and CBL & Associates.

A 2017 BestBlackFriday.com survey found 57 percent of Americans were against Thanksgiving openings while only 16 percent said they favored them.

“Many people are still strongly against the idea of retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving,” Phillip Dengler, of BestBlackFriday.com, said. “Since Thanksgiving is all about family, a majority of people believe stores should be closed on the day.”

However your family chooses to spend Thanksgiving Day, we at ASJ Partners wish you a safe and happy holiday. Now, and anytime throughout the year, partner with ASJ to make your career and staffing dreams come true.






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