History of Black Friday

How the Retail Holiday Became What We Know Today

Black Friday is one of the biggest days in retail that exists. The day after Thanksgiving, people come out in huge numbers for stores' sales and deals, hoping to snag a great deal for themselves or others as gifts. While we know it today as a huge retail holiday, the history of it is a little different.

Black Friday Facts and Statistics:

• In the United States, only around three in 10 people found Black Friday sales to be good value.

• 62% of people believe Black Friday is just a scam, but 80% will still partake and shop the holiday deals.

88% of shoppers will spend more time researching deals than at any other point in the year.

• More people are excited to get either clothes, beauty products, or personal care items rather than electronics.

• In 2022, Black Friday sales reached a record-breaking $9.12 billion.

• 70% of searches online related to Black Friday happened in October and the days leading up to Black Friday itself.

Black Friday has existed in some form since the 1800s

While we know it today as primarily a retail holiday, it’s undergone several changes throughout the years. Before it was officially called Black Friday, retail stores back in the 20th century would sponsor Thanksgiving parades and conclude them by opening their stores for holiday shopping.

After some time, it evolved again. Thanksgiving used to always be held on the last Thursday in November, but in 1939, November rolled around with 5 Thursdays instead of the usual 4. This meant businesses would start their holiday promotions a week later than usual, which they didn’t like. They went to the president of the time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to ask him if he could move the holiday back one week so that holiday shopping could start earlier.

After some time, Thanksgiving had its official day on the 4th Thursday of every November. Black Friday never really had a name until about 20 years later. Many believe that the name “Black Friday” came from an economic standpoint due to the holiday season being where businesses would go from “in the red’ which meant they were losing money, to “in the black,” which indicated profit, but this isn’t exactly true.

During the 1950s-1960s, Philadelphia held the annual Army-Navy football game the day after Thanksgiving. This event, along with annual sales the retail stores had, made many people come to the area, and police had trouble controlling crowds. This day began to be referred to as Black Friday, and the name made it to the national level in the 1980s.

How Black Friday Has Changed

We all remember when Black Friday meant insane sales and deals, huge lines of people waiting for stores to open, out-of-control crowds racing to beat others to certain items, and just an overall wild day of retail shopping. It's safe to say it's been a few years since those crazy sales, but what caused the shift?

Cyber Monday

With the introduction of the internet and online retail, in-person shopping experiences would change, and Black Friday was no exception. The first official Cyber Monday was back in 2005, and it has since become a staple and one of the most profitable online retail days of the year. When Cyber Monday came to the playing field, it pushed more stores to offer online and normal in-store sales to compete in the online retail game.

This means that in an attempt to compete, black Friday sales now not only happen online and in-store, but many stores now start the sales early or keep them going later. Instead of Black Friday, some experts now refer to November as Black November to account for how long sales go on.

Since 2019, Black Friday has surpassed Cyber Monday in the number of online shoppers it attracts, although Cyber Monday still has the highest amount of sales. Cyber Monday facts - In 2022, Cyber Monday sales reached a record-breaking $11.3 billion. - 71% said that they would shop online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2023.

- Across 16 countries, men account for 56% of the Cyber Monday shoppers.

- The sales of brick-and-mortar stores declined by 23.9% during Cyber Week in 2020.

- The stores that consumers are most excited about when it comes to Cyber Monday deals are Amazon (56%), Target (41%), Walmart (31%), Best Buy (22%), Kohl’s (21%), and Home Improvement stores (19%).

The Pandemic's Effect

While we’re no longer in pandemic status, the effects of the pandemic are still prevalent in our day-to-day experiences. In 2020, many retail stores opted to be closed on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in a while, and to account for this, they started making in-store sales earlier to help keep people from coming to shop in huge crowds, but they also lowered the percentages of the sales, and those high sales are yet to return.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest days in retail of the year. Understanding how these retail holidays can affect your small business is very important to ensure you can take advantage of the profit opportunities and precautions you may have to take to prepare.

If you want more insight into how your small business can navigate the holidays, contact Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses for more information.