While it wasn’t called “Black Friday” until the 1960s, and then not popularly called such until the last two decades, retailers have been trying to push people to shop the Friday after Thanksgiving since the late 19th /early 20th century. Around this time, it was very popular for various department stores, such as Macy’s and Eaton’s, to sponsor parades that would occur the day after Thanksgiving. These parades would typically be a major part of Christmas advertising campaigns by these stores. This, in turn, would ultimately result in a lot of people going shopping after the parades were over. Over time, this melded into a commonly accepted unwritten rule among most major department stores to hold off on their major Christmas advertising pushes until after Thanksgiving; specifically, to hold off until after these parades were over.
By the 1930s, the Friday after Thanksgiving had become the official start of the Christmas shopping season among the vast majority of retailers out there. However, this tradition ultimately resulted in retailers being unhappy with the length of the Christmas shopping season on Novembers where the last Thursday was the fifth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving at that time was always on the last Thursday of November). Thus, with the strong encouragement of lobbyists for various retailers, President Roosevelt, in 1939, decided to change the official date of Thanksgiving to be on the second to last Thursday in November, in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season as much as possible. This lasted two years before Congress was forced to stepped in, due to the controversy Roosevelt’s switch had caused. Their solution was a compromise between the two camps, setting Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.
FACTS ABOUT BLACK FRIDAY
Black friday was once called “Big Friday”
It is assumed to be the busiest shopping day of the year
It is adopted in over 15 countries in the world
BLACK FRIDAY MYTHS
A theory that is sometimes spread about how “Black Friday” got its name, came from the stock market crash in late 1929 which kicked off the Great Depression. In fact though, that event happened on a Tuesday, not a Friday. The actual “Black Friday” stock market scare happened in 1869, was in September, and had to do with gold prices. So neither stock market crash had anything to do with shopping or the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday is not the biggest shopping day of the year. In fact, it’s typically not even in the top five, though has cracked the ranks a few times in recent years. The real biggest shopping day of the year is nearly always the Saturday before Christmas, excepting a few occasions where it typically then ends up being the Thursday or Friday before Christmas, when Christmas falls on a weekend day.
Another myth online retailers would love for people to start believing is that the Monday following Black Friday, which is beginning to be known as “Cyber Monday”, is the busiest online shopping day of the year. In fact, Cyber Monday historically doesn’t even make the top ten and before the term was coined and promoted, it wasn’t even typically in the top 30. Most of the actual biggest online shopping days of the year tend to fall between December 5th and December 15th.