The day after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the United States Christmas shopping season since , although the term "Black Friday" did not become widely used until more recent decades.
Many stores offer highly promoted sales on Black Friday and open very early, such as at midnight, or may even start their sales at some time on Thanksgiving. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday, such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.
Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since ,  although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate,  have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. In , spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the recession. However, the U. Christmas creep has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend.
The earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping context suggests that the term originated in Philadelphia , where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicular traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.
This usage dates to at least More than twenty years later, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being "in the red" to being "in the black". This was taken to a new extreme in , when several retailers including Target , Kohl's , Macy's , Best Buy , and Bealls  opened at midnight for the first time. There have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday. Since , there have been 12 reported deaths and injuries throughout the United States.
This poses a significant safety risk, such as the use of propane and generators in the most elaborate cases, and in general, the blocking of emergency access and fire lanes, causing at least one city to ban the practice. Since the start of the 21st century, there have been attempts by retailers with origins in the United States to introduce a retail "Black Friday" to other countries around the world.
In several countries, local retailers have attempted to promote the day to remain competitive with US-based online retailers. For centuries, the adjective "black" has been applied to days upon which calamities occurred. Many events have been described as "Black Friday", although the most significant such event in American History was the Panic of , which occurred when financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk took advantage of their connections with the Grant Administration in an attempt to corner the gold market.
When President Grant learned of this manipulation, he ordered the Treasury to release a large supply of gold, which halted the run and caused prices to drop by eighteen percent. Fortunes were made and lost in a single day, and the president's own brother-in-law, Abel Corbin , was ruined. The earliest known use of "Black Friday" to refer to the day after Thanksgiving occurred in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance , for November , and again in Here it referred to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving, in order to have a four-day weekend.
However, this use does not appear to have caught on. Around the same time, the terms "Black Friday" and "Black Saturday" came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season. In , the city and merchants of Philadelphia attempted to improve conditions, and a public relations expert recommended rebranding the days, "Big Friday" and "Big Saturday"; but these terms were quickly forgotten. Use of the phrase spread slowly, first appearing in The New York Times on November 29, , in which it still refers specifically to "the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year" in Philadelphia.
Although it soon became more widespread, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in that retailers in Cincinnati and Los Angeles were still unaware of the term. As the phrase gained national attention in the early s, merchants objecting to the use of a derisive term to refer to one of the most important shopping days of the year suggested an alternative derivation: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year January through November and made their profit during the holiday season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer be "in the red", instead taking in the year's profits. The day after Thanksgiving as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that "Santa has arrived" or "Santa is just around the corner" because Christmas is always the next major holiday following Thanksgiving.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Santa or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores.
Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually, it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over. Therefore, the day after Thanksgiving became the day when the shopping season officially started. Thanksgiving Day's relationship to Christmas shopping led to controversy in the s. Retail stores would have liked to have a longer shopping season, but no store wanted to break with tradition and be the one to start advertising before Thanksgiving.
For this reason, in , President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation proclaiming Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November rather than the last Thursday, meaning in some years one week earlier, in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season. In , Amazon. Other companies followed with "Black Friday in July" deals which were as good as, or better than, those in November.
For many years, retailers pushed opening times on Black Friday earlier and earlier, eventually reaching midnight, before opening on the evening of Thanksgiving. In subsequent years, other stores have followed this trend, opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day, or remaining open all day, beginning in the early morning hours.
Black Friday is a shopping day for a combination of reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The early s have seen retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge or to simply keep up with the competition. Friday evening. Saturday morning. However, this practice has largely disappeared in recent years, perhaps because of an effort by retailers to create a greater sense of urgency.
The news media usually give heavy play to reports of Black Friday shopping and their implications for the commercial success of the Christmas shopping season, but the relationship between Black Friday sales and retail sales for the full holiday season is quite weak and may even be negative.
On April 23, ,. In , Neil Stern of McMillan Doolittle said, "Black Friday is quickly losing its meaning on many fronts," because many stores opened on Thanksgiving, and a lot of sales started even earlier than that. Online shopping also made the day less important.
After , many were traveling for the deals across the border. Starting in and , due to the parity of the Canadian dollar compared with the American dollar , several major Canadian retailers ran Black Friday deals of their own to discourage shoppers from leaving Canada. The year saw the biggest Black Friday to date in Canada, as Canadian retailers embraced it in an attempt to keep shoppers from travelling across the border. Before the advent of Black Friday in Canada, the most comparable holiday was Boxing Day in terms of retailer impact and consumerism.
Black Fridays in the US seem to provide deeper or more extreme price cuts than Canadian retailers, even for the same international retailer. It is the day when emergency services activate contingency plans to cope with the increase in workload due to many people going out drinking on the last Friday before Christmas.
Contingencies can include setting up mobile field hospitals near City Centre nightspots. Traditionally, Boxing Day had been considered the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK. In Mexico, Black Friday was the inspiration for the government and retailing industry to create an annual weekend of discounts and extended credit terms, El Buen Fin , meaning "the good weekend" in Spanish.
On this weekend, major retailers extend their store hours  and offer special promotions, including extended credit terms and price promotions. The two reported the biggest Black Friday sales in Hundreds of retailers announced their participation in the campaign. Black Friday is little known in India, as its shopping seasons are different. The busiest times for shopping in India and hence the times with the biggest discounts tend to be Diwali , followed by regional festivals like Ugadi , Dussehra , and Pongal in South India, Ganeshotsav in Maharashtra, Baisakhi in Punjab and Onam in Kerala.
Over the past decade, Independence day sales on 15 August have become a large attraction, though most sales in India last for a period of one week. The growing number of e-commerce websites and large retail shopping centers has contributed to such sales.
The big e-commerce retailers in India are trying to emulate the concept of shopping festivals from the United States like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have been offering discounted products on the major festivals in India. According to Google Trends, the interest for Black Friday is rising every year. Comparing the search volume of the term Black Friday in November and November , the increase is almost 50 percent 22, is the search volume in November and 33, is the search volume in November , according to the Google Adwords.
French businesses are slowly introducing the Black Friday custom into the market. Retailers favored the very American term "Black Friday" to "Vendredi noir" in their advertisements. In Germany, "Black Friday" retailer advertisements refer to "Black Week" and "Black Shopping" in English language, with sales lasting an entire week excluding Sundays when most retail stores are closed.
During this sale time, stores keep their normal working hours; and though goods are offered at reduced prices, the prices are no more significantly slashed than normal weekly price reductions. Apple was the first company to run a special Black Friday campaign for the German market in In , Swiss retailer Manor was the first to launch a special Black Friday promotion. The year after, most Swiss retailers launched special offers during the Black Friday Week. It is estimated that customers spent around million Swiss Francs on Black Friday In recent years, Singles Day got more and more important in Switzerland.
This shopping day could replace Black Friday as the most important shopping day in Switzerland in . In recent years, Black Friday has been promoted in Australia by in-store and online retailers.
Twitter users had to use the hashtag osublackfriday and it allowed them to follow along and tweet favourite deals and discounts from stores. Purchasing online gave customers free shipping and free iTunes gift cards with every purchase. In addition to this, numerous stores in the country run Black Friday promotions in-store and online throughout the country. Black Friday started picking up in New Zealand around In Norway , Black Friday started as a publicity stunt campaign back in to increase the sales to the shopping mall Norwegian Outlet.
Since the introduction, it has been promoted every year in a larger and growing market all over the country. During its first year, it was believed to have attracted an inflow of about 35, regional tourists according to the government's immigration census.
Over its first hour run on November 28, , more than 1. There has been growing interest for Black Friday in Poland as well. In , Spain joined with some small retailers. The celebration became more famous year by year, until the big retailers grew. In the Netherlands , Black Friday was seriously introduced in Some years before, there were already a number of large and small retailers that used Black Friday in their marketing.