November 20, 2012
The very words conjure up all sorts of feelings and past experiences. Ranging from 24-hour shopping sprees, dreaded lines, traffic jams, fabulous sales items that mysteriously disappear from store shelves, to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Black Friday gives way to the official start of the Christmas shopping season and all the mayhem associated with it. Yet for many people, it also represents a joyful time scurrying about shopping for gifts for loved ones and friends.
Traditionally, Black Friday is the name given to the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it can be associated with the best and the worst experiences of the holiday season. The earliest known reference to "Black Friday" to refer to shopping on the day after Thanksgiving was made in a public relations newsletter from 1961 that is clear on the negative implications of the name and its origin in Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, by 1966, the Philadelphia police department began referring to the day after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" with its massive traffic jams and crowded sidewalks and stores. By the 1970s and 1980s, the term was catching on around the country. In recent times, there have been violent incidents associated with Black Friday. Many of these are captured and reported on the national news. There are also other names emerging that are associated with the traditional Black Friday (Cyber Thanksgiving, Cyber Black Friday, and Cyber Monday).
Aside from the logistical problems associated with Black Friday that shoppers encounter, there are huge numbers racked up in merchandising sales and revenue for stores. This traditional busiest shopping day of the year continues unabated until after the Christmas season. Many see Black Friday as the day retailers go into the black or show a profit for the first time in a given year. The term stuck and spread, and by the 1990s, Black Friday became an unofficial retail holiday nationwide. Indeed, as of this writing, Wal-Mart (the largest retailer in the world) recently announced that it will be opening all its stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, thus giving credence to the fact that Black Friday is seen as the biggest shopping day of the year.
Very soon, another Black Friday will be upon us, and each person will deal with it as they so choose. And perhaps, that is the way it should be. Happy shopping!
Blue Springs North Branch