The History of Black Friday

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Black Friday is one of our favorite holidays. Because if you’re smart, you can get incredible deals on amazing products.

But have you ever wondered how Black Friday came to be?

The story is more fascinating than you might think…

The Panic of 1869

The first time we ever find mention of Black Friday is in 1869. At the time, two rich bankers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, made a shocking discovery. They realized that based on all the money they had… and all the money they were managing for their clients… they could buy up all the gold on the market. This would give them total control over the price, making them what could’ve been the largest fortune of all time!

But it wasn’t to be. Although Jim and Jay did buy up all the gold, the president of the U.S.A. at that time, civil war hero Ulysses S. Grant, flooded the market with gold from the U.S.’s reserves. This caused the value of gold to tank, costing Jim, Jay, and thousands of others, to lose almost everything.

Fast Forward to 1961

Finally, almost 100 years later, Black Friday is used to describe shoppers. But… not n a good way.

Philadelphia policemen noticed that after Thanksgiving, shoppers flooded the streets, causing congestion and accidents. It was a nightmare for the on-duty officers, who disdainfully started calling it “Black Friday”.

The Stampede Years

Since the 1960s, stores have been offering discounts after Thanksgiving. Not every retailer was in love with the name, though. In fact, at one point, a group of them got together and tried to change the name to BIG Friday. It didn’t stick!

In the early 2000s, Black Friday finally passed Christmas Eve as the biggest shopping day of the year! Realizing just how big of an opportunity it was, retailers started opening earlier and earlier.

Before online shopping, crowds of people would wait for stores to open. They would then dash in madly, desperately grabbing at whatever they could. Stores were raking in sales… but at what cost?

The Rise of the Internet

As Amazon grew throughout the 2000s, more and more people chose to stay at home instead of brave the crowds. 2011 marked the first time stores were open at midnight for Black Friday. Yet just 4 years later, in 2015, more than HALF of Black Friday sales were made online.

Now, online shopping makes up for far more sales than in-store purchases. And although it can still get crazy out there, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the early 2000s.

Common Black Friday Myth Busted

When we were researching the history of Black Friday, we picked up some interesting facts about how stores use this holiday.

For example, some people think that “Black Friday” refers to the time when stores are profitable. Or, “in the black”. In other words, for most of the season, they’re operating at a loss (“in the red”).

Although this is just a myth, it did lead to some interesting information.

How Stores Make Money On Black Friday

Have you ever wondered how stores can give such big discounts and still make money?

It’s simple. Stores will put up some flashy items at big discounts. These are usually TVs or other electronic gadgets. The TV is what gets you in the store. Once you’re in the store, you’ll be hit with a ton of other deals that, while not as good, are still enticing. By the end of your shopping time, you’ve picked up a lot more than what you usually would.

So even though you’ve paid less for each item, you’ve bought more. And this is why year after year, Black Friday gets bigger and bigger. And it’s why you see so many other “shopping Holidays” pop up (Cyber Monday, Prime Day, etc).

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