Every American knows about it. Who doesn’t love to watch giant floating turkeys and several story tall inflatable characters drift through town above colorfully festive floats? The annual Macy’s day parade has been an American tradition since 1924. What many people don’t know is that the Macy’s Day Parade helped give rise to another thoroughly American tradition, the infamous Black Friday.
The Macy’s Day Parade advertising caused a rise in sales the day after, and on top of that, major retailers at the time had a “gentleman’s agreement” that the Christmas shopping season began the day after Thanksgiving. Stores other than Macy’s began having sales in order to attract customers the day after the Thanksgiving Parade. Black Friday became a massive sale competition day, and the most opportune time for holiday shoppers to purchase their gifts. So many people began calling in sick in order to take advantage of these deals, that companies were eventually pressured into making Black Friday another paid holiday.
This shopping spree day wasn’t popularly known as Black Friday until some time around the late 1960’s. There are many stories suggesting how the name became popular. It is most popularly believed that it was first used by the media and police to describe the traffic jams, crowding, and sometimes even violence that occurred in downtown shopping districts on Black Friday. Retailers didn’t want their sales associated with such a negative name, so began using the name Black Friday themselves as a representation of their economic success. This is because accountants used red ink to signify loss and black ink to signify profit.
Despite the retailers’ efforts, Black Friday violence and chaos continued, and a few years ago stores began to be pressured to find ways to make Black Friday a safer holiday. They have used many methods such as increased security and limiting the number of people allowed in the store at a time. Perhaps the method most favored by those who were never Black Friday die-hards to begin with is the increase in online Black Friday sales, which keeps people out of the stores and safely in their homes.
Another thing that has changed is the opening times of participating stores. This new trend has become increasingly more controversial as the times begin earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving night, drawing to question the ethics in this practice. Many individuals are questioning whether this ‘shopper’s holiday’ should be allowed to continue encroaching upon a day set aside for family and appreciation of the things we already have. Whatever your Black Friday traditions may be, online shopper, nonparticipant, or deal die-hard, be safe, have fun, and don’t forget to celebrate Thanksgiving first!