Black Friday: where does this name come from and 9 other facts about the date

Black Friday: where does this name come from and 9 other facts about the date

One of the most awaited days of the year by retailers and consumers, Black Friday originated in the United States and is now adopted in several countries around the world, such as Brazil.

Last year, the event had a turnover of R$7.72 billion, including CyberMonday, an increase of 27.7% compared to the same period in 2019, according to data from Neotrust/Compre&Confie, a market intelligence company.

Online commerce was, in fact, one of the great beneficiaries of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because, afraid of leaving the house, many people started to buy online.

In the United States, Black Friday traditionally takes place after the Thanksgiving holiday, with lines as far as the eye can see.

All consumers have a single objective: to mine products with discounts that can reach up to 90% of the original price.

But when did Black Friday appear? Why did the event get its name? Check out ten trivia involving one of the most famous days of retail.

1) The term Black Friday referred to stock market crises

Although it is now associated with the biggest shopping day in the United States, the term Black Friday (literally “Black Friday” in English) originally referred to very different events.

“The adjective black has been used for many centuries to portray all kinds of calamities,” says linguist Benjamin Zimmer, executive editor of

In the US, the first time the term was used was on September 24, 1869, when two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, tried to take over the gold market on the New York Stock Exchange.

When the government was forced to intervene to correct the distortion, increasing the supply of raw material to the market, prices fell and many investors lost large fortunes.

2) Santa Claus parades preceded Black Friday

For many Americans, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, hosted by Macy’s Department Store, has become part of the holiday ritual.

But the event was actually inspired by the neighbors to the north. Canadian department store Eaton’s held the first Santa Claus parade on December 2, 1905.

When Santa Claus appeared at the end of the parade, it was a sign that the holiday season had started, and, in turn, the shopping spree. Of course, consumers were encouraged to shop at Eaton’s.

Department stores such as Macy’s were inspired by the show and began sponsoring similar events across the United States.

In 1924, for example, New York saw for the first time a Macy’s parade featuring animals from the Central Park Zoo, entirely organized by employees of the store itself.

3) The Thanksgiving date was determined by sales

From the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, in a custom initiated by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States would declare “Thanksgiving” on the last Thursday of November. The day could thus fall on the fourth or fifth Thursday of the month.

In 1939, however, something happened — the last Thursday was coincidentally the last day of November.

Concerned about the short shopping period for the end-of-the-year festivities, shopkeepers then petitioned Franklin Roosevelt to declare the start of the holidays a week early, which was authorized by the then president.

For the next three years, Thanksgiving was dubbed “Franksgiving” (a mix of Franklin and “Thanksgiving” as the holiday is called) and celebrated on different days – and in different parts of the country.

In late 1941, a joint congressional resolution finally resolved the problem.

Henceforth, Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, guaranteeing an extra week of shopping until Christmas.

4) The Friday After Thanksgiving Syndrome

According to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, Factory Management and Maintenance, a labor market newsletter—claims authorship of the use of the term Black Friday.

In 1951, a company circular called attention to the incidence of sick professionals on that day.

“The Friday after Thanksgiving syndrome is a disease whose adverse effects are only surpassed by those of bubonic plague. At least that’s how those who have to work feel when Black Friday arrives. The store or establishment it can be half empty and everyone absent was sick,” the circular said.

5) Black ou Big Friday?

That term first gained popularity in Philadelphia — police officers frustrated by the traffic caused by consumers that day began referring to Black Friday in that way.

Shopkeepers evidently disliked being associated with heavy traffic and pollution. They then decided to rebrand the term to “Big Friday” (“The Big Friday”, literally translated), according to a 1961 local newspaper.

6) Over time, Black Friday came to mean ‘going back to the blue’

Shopkeepers managed to give a positive interpretation to the term when they said that it referred to the moment when the establishments returned to the blue, that is, they returned to making a profit.

But there is no evidence that this actually happened.

It is true, on the other hand, that the holiday period accounts for most of the year’s consumer spending.

But how much of that revenue actually turns into profit isn’t clear, given that retailers often work on tighter margins, offering deep discounts.

7) Black Friday did not become a national reference until the 1990s

The term Black Friday remained restricted to Philadelphia for a surprisingly long time.

“You could see it being used sparingly in Trenton, NJ, but it didn’t cross the borders of Philadelphia until the 1980s,” Zimmer said.

“The term only spread from the mid-1990s onwards.”

8) It just became the biggest shopping day of the year in 2001

Although Black Friday is considered the biggest shopping day of the year, the date didn’t earn that title until the 2000s.

That’s because, for many years, the rule was not that Americans loved a sale, but that they loved to procrastinate. In other words, up to that point, it was Saturday, not Friday, that desks were emptied.

9) Data generated ‘envy’ and won the world

For a long time, Canadian retailers were jealous of their American counterparts, especially when their loyal customers hit the road south in search of good purchases.

But now they’ve started offering their own sales — even though Thanksgiving in Canada happened a month earlier.

In Mexico, Black Friday took on a new name — “El Buen Fin”, or “The Good Weekend”. The celebration is associated with the anniversary of the country’s 1910 revolution, which sometimes falls on the same date as Thanksgiving in the United States.

As its name suggests, the event lasts the entire weekend.

In Brazil, where the Thanksgiving holiday does not exist, the date started to be included in the country’s commercial calendar when store owners realized the day’s sales potential.

10) Is Black Friday at risk of extinction?

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 when it opened its store to shoppers on Thanksgiving holiday.

Since then, retailers across the United States have been eyeing the estimated 33 million Americans eager to shop after indulging in generous slices of turkey.

But don’t worry, shopkeepers have also invented a name for the additional shopping day: “Grey Thursday”.


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