Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States, has been regarded as the beginning of America’s Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term “Black Friday” didn’t become widely used until more recent decades.
It’s twin, Cyber Monday, refers to the Monday following the Thanksgiving Holiday. Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and Scott Silverman coined the term which made its debut on Nov. 28, 2005, in a Shop.org press release. Cyber Monday was intended to boost online shopping.
First observed in the United States on Nov. 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. Small Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express.
The earliest known use of “Black Friday” to refer to the day after Thanksgiving occurs in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance, for November 1951, and again in 1952. Here it referred to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving, in order to have a four-day weekend. However, this use does not appear to have caught on. Around the same time, the terms “Black Friday” and “Black Saturday” came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Many stores offer highly promoted sales on Black Friday and open very early, such as at midnight, or may even start their sales at some time on Thanksgiving. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday, such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.
Black Friday has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005. Inaccurate reports often have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year.
In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession. Data shows $50.9 billion was spent during that 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from the previous year. However, the U.S. economy was not in a recession. Christmas creep has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend. This year there have been many so-called”black Friday” promotions following Halloween.
In the early 1980s, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5 or 4. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014, stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Three states, Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores, and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving, due to what critics refer to as blue laws. The Massachusetts ban on forcing employees to work on major holidays is not a religion-driven “blue law” but part of the state’s Common Day of Rest Law.
According to the Shop.org/Bizrate Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year (2005)”.
In 2017, Cyber Monday online sales grew to a record $6.59 billion, compared with $2.98 billion in 2015, and $2.65 billion in 2014. However, the average order value was $128, down slightly from 2014’s $160.
Cyber Monday has become the online equivalent to Black Friday and offers a way for smaller retail websites to compete with larger chains. Since its inception, it has become an international marketing term used by online retailers across the world.