Black Friday: Origin, history, and other things to know
Black Friday is observed the day after Thanksgiving. Initially, it was only celebrated by Americans, but it has gained popularity in other countries, including India over the years. This day marks the onset of the month-long holiday shopping season. But why is it called Black Friday? Keep reading to know about its origin, history, and significance, among other things.
How is Black Friday observed
On this day, shoppers rush to the markets to take full advantage of discounts from retailers. Many stores offer highly promoted sales at discounted prices and often open early, sometimes as early as midnight! The day occurs on the last Friday of November every year. Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States.
The first recorded use of the term
Two investors named Jay Gould and Jim Fisk plotted a scam to rig the gold market, driving its prices up. It was on Friday, September 24, 1869, when the news surfaced. As a consequence, the price of the precious metal plummeted sharply which also led to panic in the stock market, causing a colossal crash. Thus the day was termed Black Friday.
History as we know it
Back in the 1960s in Philadelphia large numbers of visitors used to flock to the city for holiday shopping, the day after Thanksgiving. Often this day coincided with the annual Army-Navy football game, and the city police had to work 12-hour shifts to deal with the traffic. Due to the tiresome shifts, they started calling it Black Friday, and the term became popular nationwide.
Efforts to change the narrative
There were efforts made by merchants to change the connotation attached to this day. For a while, "Big Friday" was marketed, but it didn't catch on. Eventually, one positive narrative became popular for a brief period of time- the "red-to-black" narrative (since losses get registered in red and profits in black). It signified the surge in sales seen by retailers on this particular day.
Black Friday in India
The holiday shopping season in India has traditionally been aligned around the period of festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali around October. Online retailers have adopted the practice of holding multi-day promotions during this period, to emulate the US-style Black Friday shopping event, like Amazon's Great Indian Festival and Flipkart's Big Billion Days. Some brands have also started promoting sales during Black Friday.