Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving Day, is a busy shopping day.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day and the Friday before Cyber Monday in the United States. It is a busy shopping day and is a holiday in some states.
A Day to Shop
Many people have a day off work or choose to take a day from their quota of annual leave on Black Friday. Some people use this to make trips to see family members or friends who live in other areas or to go on vacation. Others use it to start shopping for the Christmas season.
Shopping for Christmas presents is also popular on Black Friday. Many stores have special offers and lower their prices on some goods, such as toys.
What's Open or Closed?
Black Friday is not a federal holiday but a public holiday in some states. Many people take a day of their annual leave on the day after Thanksgiving Day. Many organizations also close for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Public transit systems may run on their normal schedule or may have changed. Some stores extend their opening hours on Black Friday. There can also be congestion on roads to popular shopping destinations.
About Black Friday
Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days in the USA. There are two popular theories as to why the day after Thanksgiving Day is called Black Friday. One theory is that the wheels of vehicles in heavy traffic on the day after Thanksgiving Day left many black markings on the road surface, leading to the term Black Friday.
The other theory is that the term Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, started making profits prior to Christmas. Many hoped to start showing a profit, marked in black ink, on the day after Thanksgiving Day.
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since the early 2000s, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. 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. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, 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. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock, creating a state of positive feedback.
In 2014, $50.9 billion was spent during the 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from last year. While approximately 133 million U.S. consumers shopped during the same period, down 5.2% from last year's 141 million.
The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation was made: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss ("in the red") from January through November, and "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or "in the black".
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011 when several retailers (including Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Best Buy, and Bealls) opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (except in states where opening on Thanksgiving is prohibited due to blue laws, such as Massachusetts where they still opened around midnight), prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014 stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. There have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday.
It is common for prospective shoppers to camp out over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to secure a place in front of the line and thus a better chance at getting desired items; because 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) at least one city has banned this practice.
Look up "in the red" or "in the black" in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year. By the early 1980s, an alternative theory began to be circulated: 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. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year's profits (the black). The earliest known use that presents the "black ink theory" appeared in the November 28, 1981 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
If the day is the year's biggest for retailers, why is it called Black Friday? Because it is a day retailers make profits – black ink, said Grace McFeeley of Cherry Hill Mall. "I think it came from the media," said William Timmons of Strawbridge & Clothier. "It's the employees, we're the ones who call it Black Friday," said Belle Stephens of Moorestown Mall. "We work extra hard. It's a long hard day for the employees."
This, like the 1961 and 1966 examples from Philadelphia, above, was found by Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society.
The Christmas shopping season is of enormous importance to American retailers and, while most retailers intend to and actually do make profits during every quarter of the year, some retailers are so dependent on the Christmas shopping season that the quarter including Christmas produces all the year's profits and compensates for losses from other quarters.
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. These included the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, in Canada, sponsored by Eaton's, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade sponsored by Macy's. 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.
Later on, the fact that this marked the official start of the shopping season led to controversy. In 1939, retail shops 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. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving one week earlier, leading to much anger by the public who wound up having to change holiday plans. Some even refused the change, resulting in U.S. citizens celebrating Thanksgiving on two separate days.
The sale day has caused a number of containerizes over various practices:
Making unreasonable demands on staff, including requiring them to work, often long shifts, during Thanksgiving.
Health and safety risks due to insufficient staff for crowd management.
Selling "derivative" products manufactured just for Black Friday with lower specifications.
The term Cyber Monday, a neologism invented in 2005 by the National Retail Federation's division Shop.org, refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday based on a trend that retailers began to recognize in 2003 and 2004. Retailers noticed that many consumers, who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, shopped for bargains online that Monday from home or work. In 2010, Hitwise reported that:
Thanksgiving weekend offered a strong start, especially as Black Friday sales continued to grow in popularity. For the 2nd consecutive year, Black Friday was the highest day for retail traffic during the holiday season, followed by Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The highest year-over-year increases in visits took place on Cyber Monday and Black Friday with a growth of 16% and 13%, respectively.
In 2013, Cyber Monday online sales grew by 20.6% over the previous year, hitting a record $2.29 billion, with an average order value of $128.
As reported in the Forbes "Entrepreneurs" column on December 3, 2013: "Cyber Monday, the online counterpart to Black Friday, has been gaining unprecedented popularity – to the point where Cyber Sales are continuing on throughout the week." Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor for CBS News, further advises: "If you want a real deal on Black Friday, stay away from the mall. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all part of Cyber Week.
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