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Woman holding shopping bags at shopping centre during the sales

Why Is It Called ‘Black Friday’?

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is typically known as the busiest shopping day of the year. Many retailers across the globe offer customers significant discounts on different items including clothes, health and beauty, household products, and electronics. Some of the most commonly searched-for brands in the UK during this period are Amazon, Next, and Currys.

What date is Black Friday in 2022?

Black Friday is a global event that starts on the 25th of November at midnight and runs for 24 hours in the US, UK, and across Europe. However, due to its popularity and demand, many retailers extend discounts across the entire weekend and finish sales on Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is an extension of Black Friday. In the US, it's referred to as the Monday after Thanksgiving. The key difference between the two retail events is that Cyber Monday primarily offers discounts online whereas Black Friday is online and in-store. Nonetheless, it has become increasingly more common for some retailers to continue promoting discounts in-store too.

Where did Black Friday originate from?

Black Friday originates from the US. It can be traced back to an obscure trade magazine in 1966: Factory Management and Maintenance which talks about it as a form of ‘Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis’ with so many workers taking the day off.

However, a decade later in the city of Philadelphia is where the real roots of the phrase are found. This is when authorities start using ‘Black Friday’ to describe the traffic congestion and general problems caused by post-Thanksgiving sales crowds.

A marketing newsletter from 1961 states:

“For downtown merchants throughout the nation, the biggest shopping days normally are the two following Thanksgiving Day. Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday.”

This helps to explain why retailers have always had a slightly weird relationship with Black Friday. Various attempts have been made over the years to give the term a more positive spin with an alternative such as ‘Big Friday’ or ‘Green Friday’.

But by the 1990s the original Philadelphia phrase had become firmly embedded and was starting to be commonly used across the US media. Rather than fighting it, the retail world began to embrace it and a global sales phenomenon was borne.

Black Friday facts

Since Black Friday launched as a retail event, it has become more popularised with customers and an expectation for retailers to take part in. Here are a few facts that highlight the result of this:

  • Black Friday first became the biggest shopping day of the year in 2005
  • Items of clothing are the most purchased Black Friday sales items
  • In 2008, a New York Walmart employee was killed by a stampede of sales shoppers
  • Countries where Black Friday takes place: Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand
  • Around 40% of the sales on Black Friday are online purchases
  • Cyber Monday is a marketing term coined in 2005 as a rival promotion
  • Increased shopping traffic has been linked to a 34% increase in traffic accidents
  • 30% of all sales occur in the period between Black Friday and Christmas
  • Amazon accounted for 54.9% of all Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales in 2019