The Black Roots of Black Friday: A History of Chaos & Craftiness

Black Friday is just a few days away, and I’m sure a lot of you are already prepping to camp outside retail stores just to be one of the first in line for massive holiday savings.  But before you head out after Thanksgiving dinner, wouldn’t you like to know how the whole Black Friday shopping chaos started?

The black roots of Black Friday

The term Black Friday has been used to refer to the financial crisis in the US back in September 24, 1869 – which was a Friday.  But the term’s association to shopping wasn’t made until 1961 when Philadelphia officers coined the phrase in reference to the two worst days after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday and Black Saturday generated the worst traffic when holiday shoppers converged with football fans arriving for the Army-Navy game, traditionally played in Philly on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  So it wasn’t a term of endearment for the cops, rather it was something they dreaded.

Nevertheless retailers and the media soon picked up the term, associating it primarily with holiday shopping deals.  But the term caused problems from the start for brands – black is usually related to mourning, so using the term for business wasn’t initially considered a good idea.  They tried to replace the term with “Big Friday” but it didn’t catch on.

Are you ready for the chaos?

Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season, and a lot of people wait in line for hours just to get the best deals.  But as the years progress, people are getting smart – they found out that great deals are also available online, some even better than those in retail stores.

Another big issue regarding Black Friday is that people believe that retailers are robbing people of their family time by opening their doors early – as in, right after Thanksgiving dinner.  Some people miss their Thanksgiving dinner entirely because they prefer to wait in line at stores.  Some have even petitioned for Target to open their doors later than 8:00 PM so people could focus on Thanksgiving dinner and let their employees enjoy the holiday before having face the horde of shoppers.  Some employees even protested because of their absurd work hours leading up to Black Friday.

Also, some shoppers are wising up and waiting for Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving where retailers often set their prices even lower compared to Black Friday, enticing shoppers to go online.

Then there’s the whole issue of buying online than finding out that you will get your product later than expected or not at all, just like what happened with Best Buy last year when they waited until a week before Christmas before admitting to their customers that the orders they placed won’t be shipped in time.

Go in prepared

Whether you’re shopping online or in person, here are some tips to help you with your shopping list:

Set a budget and make a list

If you do this, you can be sure that you’ll meet all your needs and stick to your allotted budget.  It’s really fun shopping for stuff, but it’s depressing when you get home and realize you have no more extra money.

Plan your trip

Retail shops have different prices, so one shop may offer a great deal on HDTVs while another shop offers a better deal on tablets.  So before you head out, make an itinerary of the shops you want to visit.  And if you can reserve those items ahead of Black Friday, do it because it would make shopping easier.

Get techie

There are shopping apps available that helps you cross-check price of items from different stores in a jiff.  Plus, these apps can help you make reservations on items so you won’t waste your time by going to another store, only to find out that they’re already out of stock.

Make up your mind

If you must head out on Black Friday, make sure you absolutely need to leave the house and go to the store.  If you can find great deals online, then it may be a better option than waiting in line for hours and elbowing rude shoppers.  Online retailers can save you time, money and your sanity.

Save some for Monday

As I’ve said earlier, some retailers offer more discounted items on Cyber Monday.  So if you’re done with your Black Friday shopping and haven’t maxed out your credit card, don’t go back to the stores–wait for Cyber Monday to break your bank.  Who knows?  You might even get more stuff for less cash.