Why is Black Friday called Black Friday?

You might be surprised to learn that ‘Black Friday’ – two of the most powerful words in the shopper’s dictionary – wasn’t always a term of endearment.


Dark beginnings

The phrase, which has been used throughout history to describe various disasters, was first attached to day-after Thanksgiving sales by frustrated Philadelphia police in the 1960s. The story goes that they were so fed up with the regular traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks that they would refer to the downtown mobbing as ‘Black Friday’.

The phrase gradually gained traction in the 1970s, when it began appearing in reports in the New York Times and Associated Press, but it was hardly the international buzz-phrase it is today. As recently as 1985, many retailers in Cincinatti and Los Angeles had never heard the term, according to an article published in the Philadelphia Enquirer at the time.


Taking back ‘black’

As notoriety spread, companies began attempting to play down Black Friday’s negative connotations. They put forward an alternative explanation: that ‘black’ referred to ‘black ink’ in account books, a color that denotes a profit figure (as opposed to red, for a loss). It fits nicely considering the bumper store revenues the sales bring in — it is the biggest shopping event of the year, after all.

Etymology aside, Cymax’s has some big holiday specials planned this year, and they’re anything but dark. Stay tuned to this blog, Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn, Google+ and CrunchBase for deals as they come to hand.



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