Black Friday and Cyber Monday
What is the origin of these yearly American traditions?
By: Kirsten Brooker | November 25, 2022 | 538 Words
After giving thanks and filling our bellies with delicious Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pies, much of America bundles up and heads out to beat the crowd to the season’s most extraordinary retail sales. This year, 69% of Americans were expected to get up before sunrise – if they slept at all – to start marking names off their Christmas gift list. Others will wait to do their shopping online on Cyber Monday. So where did the Black Friday tradition begin, and when did Cyber Monday become a thing? Let’s explore the origins of the busiest shopping days of the year.
There are several rumored ways that the Black Friday tradition began. However, there is very little, if any, truth to many of them.
The term “Black Friday” came after a massive stock market crash in the late 1860s. Two financiers, Jay Gould and James Fisk, forced the crash when they purchased a large amount of gold and sold it at staggeringly high prices. As a result, Wall Street crashed on a Friday, and thus the name “Black Friday” came into existence.
Though we still use the term today, the origination of the modern Black Friday is not due to the stock market crash. Instead, it started in Philadelphia in the 1950s. An annual post-Thanksgiving football game between the Army and the Navy brought massive crowds to the city. In turn, businesses saw a significant increase in traffic, sales, and shoplifting. The city began preparing for the influx of people and the chaos that would ensue, so the day became quickly known as Black Friday.
Retailers across the nation caught wind of the annual tradition in Philadelphia and decided to use it to their advantage by holding special sales with drastically reduced prices. The mouth-watering deals brought in large amounts of people and produced high sales totals for retailers. The day is the unofficial kick-off to the Christmas season. Black Friday is has been the busiest shopping day of the year since the 1980s, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Beginning in the early 2000s and gaining momentum into 2012, Cyber Monday is a relatively new addition to the holiday season. It is basically the digital version of Black Friday and a go-to for those who do not want to fight the crowds at the brick-and-mortar stores. The online shopping day is the Monday following Thanksgiving and is almost as popular as Black Friday. It took some time to pick up speed, however, as online shopping was less common back then. As its popularity increases and stores continue to close their doors, more people shop on mobile devices and laptops.
During peak shopping, consumers will spend a projected $12 million per minute online this season. Total online purchases should land somewhere in the ballpark of $11 billion this year.
Another interesting twist to holiday shopping is becoming increasingly popular. Small Business Saturday helps to highlight the importance of purchasing items from small, local businesses. It is a way to share the love and keep the little guys in competition with the giants of the consumer world.