Black Friday Beginnings: The True Origin Of The Sale Frenzy

Black Friday - What Started Black Friday?

Many of us believe the phrase “Black Friday” comes from the idea that retailers operate at a financial loss before Christmas Day, but that isn’t exactly the actual story. The Black Friday Beginnings are rooted in so much more than the highly anticipated shopping frenzy phenomenon we all feverishly celebrate on that faithful day in November.

We’re all familiar with flashing banners and the corresponding glee we feel as our faces are flushed with the neon reflection from our computer screen displays. The lighted icons and clickable links promote “Best Black Friday Deals”, and “Find Amazing Black Friday Perfect Gifts,” but did you know before all its calendar-marking grandeur, Black Friday was simply called “Thanksgiving Day” because it was the shopping holiday that occurred after Thanksgiving?

Yes, that Friday. That famous day marking our inaugural Internet-sale-surfing the yearly shopping event even the youngest of us know as the date that falls on the fourth Thursday of November each year, but…

Why Is the First Friday After Thanksgiving Called Black Friday?

The term “Black Friday” was first coined by Philadelphia police during the early 60s, and referred to the mad rush of holiday shoppers seeking door-buster sales that took place on the day following Thanksgiving, which is now considered one of the biggest shopping days. Online retailer reports now regularly announce shopping increases many magnitudes of its original size over the years. This is because of online shopping, department stores, and retail stores’ amazing sales during Black Friday.

Black Friday Beginnings

black friday beginnings

Businesses attempted to transition to a more optimistic description they hoped would make the holiday season (and the retail sale term itself) more fitting by attempting to substitute the term with “Big Friday,” but Black Friday was too firmly ingrained in the American lexicon, so it grew in popularity until it firmly took root in the late 1980s when major retailer owners started spreading the red-to-blue story (red is the accounting color of financial loss, and blue—or black—is the accounting color of financial profit).

Both for online deals and for the shopping frenzy of your local retailer, Black Friday was said to be the biggest buying period in America. Ironically, most major retailers achieved their biggest sales revenue on the Saturday before Christmas. But in recent times, Black Friday has reigned supreme, and has even been partnered with other holiday promotions such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Wall Street’s Black Friday

The financial market's Black Friday beginnings - Marking Crash of 1837
Wall Street 1837

Interestingly, Black Friday was even given another meaning, one completely unrelated to shopping; in 1869, Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fiske headed a conspiracy to corner the national gold markets at the New York gold exchange. Their plan was to purchase as much of the precious metals as they could, intending to drive prices sky-high.

On Friday, September 25th, an intervention by President Ulysses S. Grant prevented their plan from succeeding. Unfortunately, the infamous chain of events resulted in an American market calamity. The American Stock Exchange immediately crashed, causing thousands of Americans to go bankrupt. In addition, the Panic of 1873 was a result.

As the financial markets gradually returned to normal, the term took another turn, taking its place as a popular term used to mark the date when companies announce important financial news, such as quarterly earnings. Here, the Black Friday term captured the sentiment that spoke of the instance of investors selling their undesirable stocks in large numbers, resulting in a negative Black Friday for the company (and remaining stockholders). Although this can happen on just about any day of the week, it’s most common on Fridays.

Black Friday - Wall Street Earnings
Financial Earnings Black Friday Reporting

The Black Friday beginnings of this phenomenon took place on November 28, 1929, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at its lowest point since October of that year; fortunately, the following day, it hit a record high and has grown ever since.

The Black Friday Sale Frenzy Phenomenon We Love

Since black Friday beginnings, the term is almost universally used to describe our most favored, and busiest shopping day of amazing price drops on some of our favored delights, such as pearls, designer necklaces, and sparkling bracelets and earrings. The promise of getting a deep discount on coveted fashion jewelry — or something you never considered being able to own at such a great price — is exhilarating to many of us.

Whether an online sale, or within the crush of other price-conscious fellow shoppers looking for Black Friday Deals (and curbside pickup or coveted free shipping available), we all mark the most common use of the term “Black Friday” as synonymous with the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the U.S., but as you now know, the history of the term is much more complicated than you might have thought — now we all look forward that special date every year.

Black Friday Specials

And of course, there are Black Friday Jewelry Sale items so irresistible that they compel us to click the checkout button, all the while smiling about our successful conquests and some wonderfully attractive savings…

HerMJ Black Friday 2021

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