For years, Black Friday has been the informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving. It has turned into a $60 billion a year spending spree. Since this is a 24-hour period that many consumers and businesses circle on their calendars, how did it come about anyway?
Black Friday: A Brief History
Black Friday is a term that was coined by the Philadelphia police in the 1950s. This phrase was how officers would describe the influx of suburban shoppers and tourists in the city to watch the Army-Navy football game, forcing the cops to work additional hours to contain the crowds and manage traffic. Since the police were busy with unusually large crowds, criminals thought they could get away with stealing more. This, of course, meant that the police had to add more cases to their workload.
Thirty years later, retailers reimagined Black Friday and used it to appeal to consumers. Sales begin, shoppers fill the stores, and the start of the Christmas shopping season begins.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Retail experts say that Black Friday is losing its meaning. When you consider all the shopping days throughout the year that offer comparable or even better savings, what is the point of Black Friday?
Let’s face it: Black Friday has sparked ample negative publicity over the years. From people lining up on Thanksgiving to be the first to enter a store to purchase a waffle maker to fistfights inside stores over the latest G.I. Joe action figure, the day has a lot of people wondering about priorities.
That said, for consumers who do not have the money to buy big-ticket items throughout the year, Black Friday is a great chance to buy these things. Plus, for a two-thirds consumption nation, the tens of billions of dollars that are spent each year can support the U.S. economy.
Despite what you think about Black Friday and the principles behind the shopping day, it has led to something called Giving Tuesday. Every Tuesday after Thanksgiving, consumers donate money to a charity of their choice. It is still relatively new, but it has already led to Americans donating as much as $200 million – and this does not include volunteering, launching a fundraiser, or giving someone a helping hand. As we feed our pleasure senses, we also take the time to show our gratitude and contribute to a worthwhile organization.