The Story Behind the Name "Black Friday"

Toni Koraza

Once again, Americans have flocked to retail aisles to fight over widescreen TVs, gaming consoles, and stuff they barely want.

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than demolishing your local Target?

Jokes aside, let’s quickly explore what Black Friday means and where does the name come from.

The story of Black Friday

When we speak of Black Friday, we think of shopping frenzies, impressive sale numbers, and holidays.

However, the story behind Black Friday has nothing to do with shopping holiday sales.

In 1869, the term ‘Black Friday’ was originally coined after a major stock market crash. Investors Jim Fisk and Jay Gould devised a plan to crash the stock market and make millions. They accumulated as much gold as they could on September 24, 1869. As a result, the price of gold increased, and the stock market fell by 20%.

Then President Ulysses S. Grant tried to fix the damage done by Gould and Fisk by flooding millions of dollars worth of gold into the market. However, the value of gold decreased awfully.

The plan became a failure, and financiers lost millions – hence the term Black Friday.

During the 1950s and 1960s, law enforcement officers revived the term “Black Friday” as they had to work overtime managing traffic and mobs of shoppers on Friday before the Army-Navy football game on Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia was a big deal then.

Black Friday was only connected to the Thanksgiving shopping frenzy in the 1980s.

Ink has a role in the association between the term “Black Friday” and merchants. The New York Times claims that retailers used black ink to represent profits and red paint to represent losses. Retailers were able to move from being in the red to being in the black after Black Friday sales, thus the name “Black Friday.”

Since then, small businesses, nonprofits, and mega enterprises have become creative in adopting Black Friday as part of their business model. This has created a unique shopping sensation and changed everyday traffic patterns across the country.

If you’re interested in how mail will be delivered during holidays, check out the holiday season delivery schedule.

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