Black Friday Madness

ryanStudy Break

There is some irony that the day after we give thanks and feel grateful for what we have, a lot of us, get up early, join hordes of people, and literally fight our way into stores to get the best deals of the year. When did Black Friday become Black Friday? details the first utterance of “Black Friday”: The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

Back in the 1950s, Philadelphia police used the term to describe the chaos that ensued in the city the day after Thanksgiving. Suburban shoppers and tourists descended into the city in advance of the annual Army-Navy game held every year on Saturday. Police were not allowed to take the day off and instead had to work extra-long shifts dealing with the crowds, shoplifters, and traffic. The experience was a very annoying experience for the Philly police.
By the early 1960s, city leaders and retailers began to work to remove the negative connotations attached to Black Friday by promoting a new interpretation of the term. Citing all the shopping traffic, the retailers began to say that it was this time of year that they finally began to see a profit, i.e., went into the black (“red” is used to described debt). The term didn’t begin to take nationwide until the late 1980s, when retailers became successful in promoting Black Friday as a positive experience for shoppers (and themselves).

Why do people put themselves through this? CNBC examined the madness behind the modern-day Black Friday and found that it wasn’t always about the deals that motivated people to get up at 5:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. or even earlier to get to the stores. It was about bonding with their family, friends, and enjoying being part of a group. “It’s become a cultural phenomenon,” said Leon Nicholas, retail consultant with Kantar Retail. “People want to be part of some larger, cultural event. Black Friday has become a holiday, quite frankly.”

Do you plan join the madness this Black Friday? Is it for the deals or for the bonding? Let us know at, and tell us about your favorite Black Friday deal .