The History of Black Friday

Black Friday is a term we all know, some of us dread the name and for some, it’s an adrenaline rush. But, how does Black Friday affect us as a community? For many of the participants, Black Friday is done through online shopping. For the rest of the participating community, they brave the crowds and search for their sales in person. This often only benefits the few that are willing to fight over merchandise.

Through the website, Black Friday Death Count, we can see how many injuries and deaths have appeared on headlines globally due to this violent day. The website mentions 14 deaths and 117 injuries between 2006 and 2020. However, there are surely many more that aren’t reported on and therefore aren’t accounted for. 

So, why do people get violent for merchandise anyways? Sharron Lennon, a professor at Indiana University of apparel and merchandising, has conducted two research studies through Clothing and Textiles Research Journal. She conducted this research by surveying hundreds of shoppers participating in Black Friday on their behaviors. She found that the misbehaviors originate from “feelings of inequality.” When we buy something on an average day, we give a company money with the promise of getting a good return. On Black Friday, this rather calm process gets drop-kicked out the window, because in most situations, the calm and collected shoppers don’t get the deals they went for. The people throwing calm shoppers to the ground are usually the ones that escape with the most deals due to their willingness to fight for deals for themselves. All of this makes for an irrational and unfair method of shopping compared to any other day, so we fight to be on the upside of the dispute as the fairness slants. 

With all of these aspects accounted for, why do we have Black Friday at all? Retail franchises experience their biggest revenue days on this day, so obviously, they will continue giving out holiday deals. The article Black Friday History: The Dark True Story Behind The Name by Casey Bond states that, retail franchises say that the term Black Friday is used as the day puts companies “in the dark”. Retail franchises use this altered definition in order to maintain a more joyful vibe to the title. However, police departments and retail workers do not share the same sentiments.

The term as we know it was first popularized in Philadelphia anywhere between the 1950’s and 60’s. The term was used by traffic police who dreaded the day. When “black” appears before a word like a day, it often has a negative connotation to describe the despair the day brings. So naturally, the dreaded national day for holiday shopping gained its name, “Black Friday.” The day brings heavy traffic, crowded shopping districts, and more often than may be assumed, deaths and injuries. Luckily, in our modern day of technology, we can easily spend our money online rather than risking injury or injuring others. This may indeed be the truest blessing of online shopping.