History of Black Friday as a Cultural Phenomenon

The grand sale at the end of November is known as Black Friday or “Black Friday”. For American supermarkets, it is familiar – similar campaigns have been held for decades. But in European countries, such a tradition has appeared relatively recently.

The Black Friday culture even applies to casino games India, as casinos offer more no-deposit bonuses for their slots during this period.

Understanding where, when and why it occurred was all the more enjoyable. So, let’s dive into the world of shopping!

History of Black Friday as a Cultural Phenomenon

History of the term

Traditionally, “black” was called Friday, falling on the 13th day of the month. It was believed that this day was especially likely to get into trouble. This belief exists in many countries – indeed, you are familiar with it.

However, the first mention of the term associated with the shopping boom appeared in Factory Management and Maintenance in 1951. The author pointed out that many workers take time off and sick leave after Thanksgiving for four days off. Amid the holiday, factory productivity dropped to a minimum, but store profits skyrocketed.

Around the same time, the term Black Friday appeared in the vocabulary of the Rochester and Philadelphia police forces. Encouraged by the long weekend and the festive atmosphere, people got behind the wheel to go to the nearest store, to the countryside or to visit relatives. City streets were jammed with kilometre-long traffic jams, parking lots overflowed with cars, and tensions escalated into car accidents and fights.

In the mid-1950s, police officers were prohibited from taking Black Friday off after Thanksgiving. Only top brass were exempted from street patrols. Even police band officers were employed to direct intersectional traffic and maintain order. A newspaper article stated that a resourceful trombonist cleverly used his musical instrument to signal drivers and prevent collisions.

History of the sale

To understand the journey that retailing has taken in 150 years, it must be said that in the late 19th century, price tags were rare. Salespeople had to converse with the customer, determining their purchasing power by eye and naming an appropriate price.

The first fixed-price stores were established in 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth, a young entrepreneur. His “Everything for 5 and 10 cents” concept was incredibly successful. In 1911, the businessman’s retail network already had 586 stores. Many entrepreneurs took up the idea. To show the customer how favourable the offer was, they began to cross out the old price and write under it a new one. It is how the world got acquainted with discounts and regular promotions.

Most often, sales were held right after Thanksgiving. Stores tried selling leftover merchandise to refresh their windows before the Christmas weekend. Ads for these promotions began appearing in newspapers as early as the late nineteenth century, just as fixed prices became fashionable and began to appear in most outlets.

The tradition finally took shape in the early 1960s. It developed unspoken rules:

  • the bigger the discount, the better;
  • to raise prices in advance to make more profit, it was forbidden to;
  • and it was considered bad form for a customer to return a discounted item.

So why “Black”?

The debate about the name of the sale is still going on. Researchers dealing with this topic have several versions:

  • Industrialists were incurring significant losses due to workers taking time off work. Because of this, they looked forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving as a natural disaster.
  • Philadelphia police officers claimed that the streets were “pitch black” because of the solid flow of automobiles.
  • Store owners made huge profits, recorded in the ledgers in black ink, while losses were noted in red.
  • Black Friday had a negative image for a long time. In 1961, the Philadelphia authorities even tried to introduce the term “Grand Friday”, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The tense situation on the streets of major cities and numerous accidents fueled the negative attitude. In the pursuit of low prices, people often picked fights, crushed each other and knocked over counters.

Today, however, we see Black Friday as a positive phenomenon. Why? The answer to this question was given to us by the events that took place at the beginning of the XXI century.

New image

Black Friday is a grand sale many stores hold in different parts of the world. The traditional action starts right after the end of Thanksgiving and falls on November 23-29.

Abroad, the first advertisements with the slogan Black Friday Sale, that is, “Black Friday Sale” appeared in the 1990s. Marketing pioneers were supermarket chains – Walmart, Target, Costco and others. Well-known brands – Dell, Victoria’s Secret, Adidas, Ford and General Motors quickly picked up the idea.

The excitement around Black Friday gradually grew. It was fueled by the media, which said that the average American family could save more than 1000 dollars in one day thanks to favourable purchases. The most significant discounts were called Doorbusters, that is, “doorbusters.” People would take up lines under stores and break down doors in an incredible crash.

Already in the early 2000s, marketers declared an unspoken war on the scandalous image of Black Friday. They tried to equalize the flow of customers, extending the action for several weeks and holding alternative events – “Black Thursday”, “Cyber Monday”, and so on. But tradition proved more vital – people tried to buy everything they needed on the same day.

Black Friday came to Europe in the early 2010s. By then, queues in stores, crushes and other unpleasant incidents were becoming rare, but revenues continued to increase. Why? It’s straightforward – the sale moved to the Internet. Let’s agree; it is much more convenient to make profitable purchases in your favourite chair with a cup of hot coffee in your hand.

Technology continues to improve. Today, we do a lot of shopping on the go, using smartphones and tablets. Amazon and other companies are investing billions of dollars to develop robotic couriers that speed up delivery. Moving smoothly into the virtual space, Black Friday is taking on a new positive image. It brings more joy and comfort than the negativity associated with traffic jams and noisy store crowds.

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