(CNN Business) — It is likely that you or someone you know is preparing to buy on Black Friday or Black Friday.
The informal start to the holiday season has been transformed into a day that helps retailers attract shoppers to their stores. It’s almost a tradition in America, but despite common perception, the name has nothing to do with red or black ink on merchants’ account balances.
Black Friday began in the 1950s in Philadelphia.
Dozens of suburban shoppers poured into the city in the days after Thanksgiving, according to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher at the University of North Carolina. The city pushed for huge sales and decorations ahead of an Army-Navy soccer game on Saturday.
“It was a double whammy” Taylor-Blake told CNN. “Transit cops were required to work 12-hour shifts, no one could get out, and people flooded the sidewalks, parking lots, and streets. The police had to deal with all of that and coined the term.”
Businessmen in the city also began using the term to describe the long lines and shopping chaos at their stores. “It became this comedic reference to downtown Philly after Thanksgiving.”
In 1961, the idea of changing the name of the holiday to “Great Friday” (Big Friday) was proposed so that one of the biggest days in shopping would not have a negative connotation. But that was unsuccessful.
Over time, retailers learned to embrace the name and even extended the one-day shopping event.
Around 2003, retailers increased store opening hours. That year, Kmart, Walmart and Sears offered pre-dawn discounts starting at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. That was the same year that Black Friday became the most profitable shopping day of the year, according to data from the International Council of Malls. Prior to 2003, the most profitable shopping days in the US were at the end of December.
In 2011, Walmart extended business hours again when it opened its stores at 10 pm on Thanksgiving night and stayed open through Black Friday.
With the popularity of the internet, another shopping day was born in 2005: Cyber Monday. It was a marketing term from the National Retail Federation to reflect the shopping frenzy felt by physical stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday has exploded in fame ever since.
Shoppers have said that sales and discounts are the most important factor in choosing a store, followed by free shipping and a convenient location.
Kathryn Vasel contributed to this story. Originally published in November 2018 and updated in November 2022.
Source: CNN Espanol