The Origin of Black Friday

Published: 25/11/2016 and written by Toni Hart

The Origin of Black Friday


Thanksgiving is just what it says on the tin – a day for giving thanks, a day to acknowledge everyone who has helped in times of need, and a day to be grateful for all that you have. But once the festivities are over, we have Black Friday – a day to grab as many bargains as physically possible, while avoiding getting hurt. The American equivalent of the Boxing Day sales.

There are a lot of things us Brits have pinched from our cousins across the pond – prom, Halloween, the clown craze, and now Black Friday. Over the last few years, retailers in the UK have begun to offer incredible deals, not only on the day itself, but also in the weeks leading up to it. Now although we’re not complaining, it would be nice to know how this newfound tradition came about, and why we’re taking part. Mr Lender, a UK based short term loan provider, brings you a list of the most popular theories on how Black Friday came about.

The notion of Black Friday was first introduced in 1924, when Macy’s held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade – which now marks the start of the holiday season. Retailers quickly learned they could make a tidy profit by offering huge discounts to customers as they begin their Christmas shopping. This is how the Black Friday we have come to know today first came about, but many people seem to have their own theories on the origin of the name.

  1. Philadelphia Police Department

The most common theory is that the Philly PD coined the term to try and convince shoppers that it was a bad day to go out – in a Friday the 13th kind of way. The traffic and congestion had become so notoriously chaotic, that the police decided that something had to be done. Not only did this not work, but it has since become even more chaotic in recent years, and begun to spread outside of the US.

  1. ‘In the black’

Black Friday is one of the most profitable days in the year for many retailers. So as a result, it is quite often thought that the origin of Black Friday came from businesses being ‘in the black’ – technical jargon for making a profit. Although it is true that most retailers are able to make a quick turn around on their financial situation, it is thought that this theory was introduced to undo the work of the Philadelphia PD.

  1. The slave trade

One particularly dark and ugly theory has surfaced in recent years, claiming slave traders would sell slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. This has led to masses of people calling for the day to be boycotted. However, Black Friday wasn’t introduced until almost 120 years after the slave trade was abolished in the United States, so it is unlikely that the festive tradition originated from this.

  1. Black Friday = Sick Day

One final theory is that Black Friday is known to be a bad day for employers, because people tend to take the day off to make the most of the bargains. Although there isn’t much proof that the term was coined because of this reason, it has been proven that people do tend to get sick around Thanksgiving. Though the sickness may just be a result of overconsumption.

In case you have been living in a cave for the last few months, Black Friday will be taking place this year on the 25th of November, with extra discounts and promotions taking place over the weekend. And if you miss any great deals, you can grab some more on Cyber Monday – the 28th of November.