The truth behind Black Friday

Published 8:49 am Thursday, November 23, 2017

It seems that Black Friday has become almost as much of a holiday as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Advertisements for massive bargains not only at brick and mortar locations, but online as well, permeate the media seemingly as much as advertisements for the holidays themselves. Black Friday is a yearly event in American culture.

Some stores even start early Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving day.

The history of Black Friday is can be traced back to a financial crisis in America’s history. According to, the term was first used to describe the crashing of the gold market in Sept. of 1869. Two greedy Wall Street men, Jim Fisk and Jay Gould hatched a plan to buy up all of the gold they could to raise the price astronomically and sell it to make incredibly high profits. On the aforementioned Friday, the plan backfired and the stock market went into a tailspin, causing mass bankruptcy.

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The most commonly told story behind Black Friday is rather innocuous. Businesses used to record their losses as being “in the red” and their profits as “in the black.” The slew of after-Thanksgiving shoppers looking for deals would drive retailers back “into the black.”

According to, the real truth behind Black Friday can be traced back to the 1950s in Philadelphia. The police of the city would dubbed the day “Black Friday” due to the disarray that would happen the day after Thanksgiving thanks to would-be shoppers and tourists who would pour into the city. The problem was only compounded due to an annual football game that happened the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The police would have to pull overtime to deal with shoplifters and traffic. But the early 1960s, the problem was such a headache that there was a push to change the term to “Big Friday” in order to get away from the negative association of “Black Friday.” By the 1980s, retailers had found a way to steer the negativity of the day into a positive by embracing the marketing aspect of the deals people came out in droves to take advantage of. This is also when the “from red to black” angle was thought of.

Information for this article can be found at