Most people know Black Friday as the day after Thanksgiving, which officially kicks off the shopping season for Christmas. Most U.S. retailers open very early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season.
The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or “in the black.”
The news media frequently refers to it as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of pedestrian traffic at shopping centers, in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was the fifth to tenth busiest day. In 2002 and 2004, however, it ranked second place, and since 2005, it actually was the busiest retail day.
Throughout history, the name Black Friday was not always used to recognize the day after Thanksgiving. Here are some other days in history referred to as “Black Friday”:
– Black Friday (1688), imprisonment of the Seven Bishops (8 June), on the eve of the Glorious Revolution.
– Black Friday (1869), the Fisk-Gould Scandal (24 September), a financial crisis in the United States.
– Black Friday (1881), the Eyemouth disaster: 189 fishermen died.
Haymarket affair (11 November 1887), four Chicago anarchists hanged, without evidence, for the deaths of seven police officers during a labor meeting.
– Black Friday (1910), a campaign outside the British House of Commons (18 November) of the Women’s Social and Political Union the Conciliation Bill which failed.
– Black Friday (1919), the Battle of George Square (31 January), a riot stemming from industrial unrest in Glasgow, Scotland.
– Black Friday (1921), the announcement of British transport union leaders (15 April) not to call for strike action against wage reductions for miners.
– Black Friday (1939), a day of devastating bushfires (13 January) in Victoria, Australia, which killed 71 people.
– Black Friday (1942), air attack on Dartmouth, Devon, 18 September 1942.
– Black Friday (1944), a disastrous attack by The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada (13 October) near Woensdrecht during the Battle of the Scheldt.
– Black Friday (1945), an air battle over Sunnfjord (9 February), the largest over Norway.
– Hollywood Black Friday (5 October 1945), a riot at the Warner Bros. studios stemming from a Confederation of Studio Unions (CSU) strike leading to the eventual breakup of the CSU.
– The 1950 Red River Flood, which burst several dikes flooding much of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
– The cancellation of Avro Arrow (1959), which resulted in massive layoffs in the Canadian Aerospace industry.
– Black Friday (1960), San Francisco City protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee.
– Black Friday (1963), the assassination of US President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963.
– Black Friday (1977), Game Three of the 1977 National League Championship Series in Major League Baseball, in which the Philadelphia Phillies lost a two-run lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers with two outs in the ninth inning and no runners on base.
– Black Friday (1978), a massacre of protesters in Iran (8 September).
– 1985 United States-Canadian tornado outbreak/The Barrie Tornado, (31 May 1985).
– Edmonton Tornado (31 July 1987), a tornado touching down in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
– Black Friday (Maldives) (2004), a crackdown in Mali, Maldives (13 August) on peaceful protesters.
– Black Friday (2005), Tribal students killed in Meghalaya, India.