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The Evolution and History of Black Friday

The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s time to get your wish lists in order. Kicking off the holiday shopping season is the most exciting and hectic shopping day of the year: Black Friday. Stores around the nation participate in this unofficial holiday, including many of our very own Woodfield shops. Black Friday may seem like a holiday staple now, but it wasn’t always such a widely recognized event. Take a trip down memory lane as you prepare for your shopping extravaganza with this brief guide to the history of Black Friday.

The beginning

As with most holidays, the history of Black Friday is a bit fuzzy. While we don’t know the true origins of this holiday for certain, people have long considered the Friday after Thanksgiving the beginning of the Christmas season. Though the name Black Friday didn’t pop up until the 1950s, many businesses saw this day as the perfect opportunity to roll back prices and debut seasonal items. The popularity of Thanksgiving Day parades, many of which were sponsored by well-known retailers, also helped to further the perception of this unofficial holiday. Police officers first used the name “Black Friday” to describe the influx of crowds and traffic that were common at the start of the holiday shopping season. People have also long used the term “black” to describe undesirable events, so the name Black Friday eventually stuck, and people have used it to describe the Friday after Thanksgiving for many years.

Bigger crowds, lower prices

As the popularity of Black Friday shopping continued to grow, it became more and more important for businesses to set themselves apart from the competition. Businesses started lowering their prices more and more and opening their doors to shoppers earlier every year. Today, many stores open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, often in the late afternoon or early evening. The logic behind these changes is simple: the earlier the doors are open, the longer customers have to shop, and the higher the likelihood of purchases. Many shoppers and retailers see this change as beneficial, but it has also led to the phrase “Gray Thursday” or “Black Thursday.” With this change, retailers seem to skip over Thanksgiving entirely, moving immediately into the holiday shopping season instead.

Turning to technology

The retail industry has evolved many times throughout the years, and one of its more recent changes involves a shift toward online retail. With the prevalence of technology in our modern society, many retailers have begun to use online sales in their Black Friday ad campaigns. The popularity of online discounts has led to the creation of yet another unofficial, consumer-focused holiday. Cyber Monday occurs on the Monday following Thanksgiving and enables shoppers to kick off their holiday shopping without ever leaving their house. Cyber Monday first became popular in the early 2000s, and, as technology has become smarter and more accessible, it has only continued to grow in popularity.
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