Why It’s Called Black Friday
By Chad Upton | Editor
The term “Black Friday”, originally referred to Friday, September 24 1869, when the value of gold plummeted. It happened because a couple of speculators allegedly drove the price up, telling investors it would increase in value because the government was going to buy it, but the federal government actually sold a significant amount of their gold, which flooded the market and caused the value to plummet. For many investors, it was their financial doomsday.
The contemporary meaning of “Black Friday” refers to the day after US Thanksgiving. This meaning comes from Philadelphia Police, cab and bus drivers. They called it black Friday because they are overwhelmed as huge numbers of people go shopping and cause havoc to their normal routines.
It’s often referred to as the busiest day of the year for retailers, but that’s not entirely true. It is the day when they have the highest number of people in their store, but it’s not normally the highest day of sales for the year, although it’s usually in the top ten.
Update: A couple of comments mentioned the idea that the “Black Friday” name refers to the time when retailers finally turn a profit for the year, moving from “red” ink into “black” on their income statement. Before researching this post, I thought that was the reason too. Wikipedia does mention this idea as an “alternative” explanation that emerged sometime after the term was coined by police, cabs and bus drivers in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not provide any sources to indicate that this is a fact for retailers. Although there are many sources that mention this idea, I cannot find any hard data that indicates any retailer operates without profit until the last 6 weeks of the year. If anyone finds any data that shows this, I’d love to include it in this post — it would definitely have significance in the meaning of “Black Friday.”
Photo: Richard Roberson (cc)