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The history of Black Friday

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Is there anything more thrilling than the hunt for a good bargain? Probably, but with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday right around the corner gift shopping is at the top of everybody’s list. Most (if not every) Americans know about Black Friday – but do you know when and how it started?

The term “Black Friday” used to have a negative connotation and was started in the 1960’s by police in Philadelphia. They used the term because they dreaded the day for it’s terrible traffic. There wasn’t widespread use of the term by retailers until the mid 70’s though. Now it’s known as the starting-pistol for shopping.

Small Business Saturday – first observed in 2010 was actually started by American Express. It all started with a nationwide radio and TV advertising campaign and has snowballed over the past few years into a day where an estimated $5.5 billion was spent in 2012 at locally owned stores (according to the National Federation of Independent Business). Small Business Saturday has turned into big business for local shops in just a couple of years.

Surprisingly, Cyber-Monday was first recognized as an unofficial shopping holiday in 2005. If you can’t remember, in 2005 the Internet was still pretty slow in peoples homes. So slow in fact that the Monday after Thanksgiving, people would go to work to shop because of the typically faster Internet connection. It’s as simple as that. Cyber-Monday is still seen as a day to shop but shopping is typically done at home now.

That gives a little insight into the bargain-hunting weekend and here are some additional statistics to ponder:

Black Friday Facts

  • The latest Thanksgiving possible means only 25 shopping days between Black Friday (11/29) and Christmas this year, versus 32 days in 2012.
  • Last year, 20% of consumers hadn’t even begun shopping for Christmas by December 22. Another 12% had no plans to spend any money for the holidays whatsoever.
  • Last year, there were Black Friday sales before, during and after Black Friday, and post-Christmas sales for days before Christmas Day. – Time Business & Money
  • 27% of consumers said they’ll be done by Dec. 1, compared with 24% last year. – American Express survey.
  • Holiday spending forecast is a rise of only 2.4% – ShopperTrak
  • Last year shoppers spent $11.2 billion in physical stores on Black Friday, a decline of 1.8% from 2011 – ShopperTrak.
  • Black Friday is not the biggest shopping day of the year – it’s the Saturday before Christmas.