Demystifying: The Black Friday Origin Story

Tomorrow, retailers across the United States will be re-opening their stores after Thanksgiving, for one of the busiest shopping days of the year - Black Friday.

Marking the beginning of the Holiday shopping season, Black Friday has become a tradition which sees millions of US consumers heading to stores (and websites) to snag huge savings on must have items.

But where did this tradition start? And why is it called Black Friday?

Let's go find out!

Like many, I'd heard the story that: Black Friday is the point in the year when retailers cross the line into profitability. In accountant speak this is known as being "in the black", which comes from using black ink in paper ledgers (account books) to show positive values.

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

But it's not true!

Thanks to the superior word sleuthing skills of Bonnie Taylor-Blake we can share the true origin story, of what seems like a terrible name for a day of huge savings, and holiday shopping!

When was the term Black Friday first associated with the day after Thanksgiving?

The earliest mention of the two days together, appears in the November 1951 issue of Factory Management and Maintenance, where M.J. Murphy wrote:

Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis is a disease second only to the bubonic plague in its effects.

At least that's the feeling of those who have to get production out, when the "Black Friday" comes along. The shop may be half empty, but every absentee was sick - and can prove it.

When did Black Friday become a day of shopping?

The first mention of Black Friday as a shopping day, comes in the December 18th, 1961 edition of Public Relations News.

For downtown merchants throughout the nation, the biggest shopping days normally are the two following Thanksgiving Day.

Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday.

If Black Friday was a bad thing, why not change the name?

They tried! In the early 1960s, Philadelphia's shopkeepers worked with a well know PR executive, Abe S. Rosen, who recommended:

...adoption of a positive approach which would convert Black Friday and Black Saturday to Big Friday and Big Saturday.

But the name change didn't take hold and over twenty years later, the use of Black Friday had spread and was ruffling retailers feathers across the nation. With the National Retail Merchants Association stating in a 1985 press release that:

Black Friday is not an accepted term in the retail industry and as far as retailers are concerned, it is understood to mean the Friday the stock market crashed in 1929.

If retailers didn't like the name, how come it stuck?

In 1985, Jennifer Lin, writing for The Philadelphia Enquirer posed this very question:

If shoppers are at a loss to explain the origins of the phrase and merchants don't own up to it, could it be that the term was coined by ... no, not the media?

And got the most likely answer:

Yes, the press, suggests Joyce Mantyla, a spokeswoman for John Wanamaker.

“The media may have dubbed the term, kind of tongue-in-cheek, because it is the toughest time to shop,” Mantyla said. “And we've been inundated so much with it that we have come to accept it.”

Love it or loath it, Black Friday is here to stay!

Phew! So can I get a deal?

Well, since you asked so nicely... sure!

Kano Black Friday Pixel Kit Deal

With savings of $30 in the US, £30 in the UK, $30 in Canada, and €30 in the EU (from November 19th 2018, until November 26th 2018), now is a great time to grab the Kano Kit that lets you code dazzling lights to make your own games, animations, and art!

For those of you that haven’t had a chance to check out the Pixel Kit, and its 16x9 grid of 128 RGB LEDs, we’ve pulled together Five Fab Pixel Kit Unboxing Videos that show you what to expect straight out of the box.

Kano Black Friday Computer Kit Deal

With savings of $50 in the US, £50 in the UK, $70 in Canada, and €80 in the EU (from November 22th 2018, until November 26th 2018), now is a great time to grab the computer that anyone can build!

For those of you that haven’t had a chance to check out the Computer Kit, we’ve pulled together Five Cool Kano Computer Kit Videos that show you what to expect straight out of the box.

Enjoy!