Why Black Friday Called Black Friday, What’s So Special About It?

Black Friday: Black Friday refers to the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. In the United States, it officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Many stores open early, sometimes as early as midnight or even on Thanksgiving, for heavily advertised sales at reduced prices. Monday (“Cyber Monday”) or the following week may be the end of the sale at some stores.

Since 2005, the fourth Friday of November or the fifth Friday if November 1 falls on a Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. The Friday after Thanksgiving has been the busiest shopping day of the year for decades. Have you ever wondered where the holiday shopping extravaganza “Black Friday” got its name? Read here about the history of Black Friday.

Why is Black Friday Called a Black Friday?

The true beginnings of Black Friday remain shrouded in mystery. Some point to the steep discounts offered to Black Friday shoppers as the reason for the event’s sobriquet. People assumed that good deals would result in large profits because losses show up in the red column and gains in the black column. Instead, Black Friday got its name from the Philadelphia police.

Black Friday is so named because it was traditionally the day on which retailers turned a profit after years of operating at a loss or “in the red.” Though technically correct, the roots of the term are somewhat shadier. Black Friday was first used to describe a market crash in 1869 after investors Jay Gould and Jim Fisk artificially inflated the price of gold.

Because of this, investors lost 20% of their money, international trade ceased, and farmers saw a precipitous decline in the price of their staple crops like corn and wheat. Resurrected in Philadelphia in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The term was used to describe the day that falls between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game.

Law enforcement would have to put in extra hours to manage traffic as a result of the influx of tourists and shoppers. In fact, it wasn’t until the late ’80s that the phrase became commonly associated with retail therapy. The origin of the term “Black Friday” can be traced back to the practice of using red ink to indicate losses and black ink to indicate profits in accounting.

Businesses started making money on Black Friday. The name stuck and today Black Friday kicks off a season of shopping events that includes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

How Black Friday Originated?

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving advertisements for Black Friday sales begin appearing in stores and on e-commerce sites. Also, you probably shopped on Black Friday at least once in your life. Black Friday has nothing to do with the holiday season, as it was first used in New York 145 years ago. A pair of investors by the names of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk respectively president and vice president of the Erie Railroad, were known as two of the most ruthless financial masterminds on Wall Street.

A gold market manipulation scheme that had been in the works for months finally came to a head on September 24th, 1869. President Ulysses Grant discovered that Gould and Fisk had been artificially inflating the price of gold by buying up large quantities of the precious metal, and he promptly flooded the market with gold, resulting in a catastrophic collapse of the stock market.

This day became known as “Black Friday” because the effects were felt in the US economy for years. Numerous speculators lost everything, and at least one took his own life as a result. Many farmers saw the value of their wheat and corn harvests drop by as much as 50 percent as international trade came to a halt.

Black Friday Around the World

Black Friday
Black Friday

United States

Although “Black Friday” is not a federal holiday in the United States, many states recognize the day after Thanksgiving as a day off for state government workers including California. On occasion, it takes the place of another national holiday like Columbus Day. Both Thanksgiving and the Friday after it are considered holidays for many non-retail workers and educational institutions.

Black Friday weekend when combined with the following regular week-end becomes a four-day weekend potentially increasing the number of shoppers. There is no busier place in the United States than Charlotte, North Carolina’s SouthPark neighborhood on Black Friday.


Black Friday has become increasingly popular in the United States and Canadians have traditionally flocked across the border to take advantage of the lower prices and stronger Canadian dollar. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the proximity of the United States to the large population centers along Lake Ontario and the Lower Mainland in Canada.

After 9/11 people started crossing the border for cheaper prices. Many large Canadian stores began their own Black Friday sales in 2008 and 2009 in response to the parity of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar.

United Kingdom

The police and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom were the first to use the term “Black Friday” to describe the Friday before Christmas. Since many people choose to go out drinking on the last Friday before Christmas, emergency services must activate backup plans to handle the influx of calls.

Among the potential precautions is the placement of mobile field hospitals close to the City Center’s nightlife venues. As a result, the phrase is no longer restricted to the lexicon of emergency services. It is now commonly used to refer to the day and night of the Friday before Christmas.


Since 2011, El Buen Fin has been celebrated on the weekend before the Monday on which the Mexican Revolution holiday is observed rather than on November 20, due to a policy implemented by the government to prevent workers and students from taking a “larger” week-end (for example, not attending in a Friday after a Thursday holiday, thus making a four-day week-end). Big-name stores are known to extend their hours this weekend and run special promotions such as extended payment plans and price reductions.


In 2011, Flanco brought the concept to Romania, where it has since grown in popularity annually. Black Friday sales for 2014 were led by these two companies. A total of €37 million was generated in sales for eMAG while €22 million was generated in sales for Flanco.

Thousands of stores have already committed to taking part in the 2015 promotion. From a sample size of 15 million people in Romania, 73% (or 11 million) reported being familiar with Black Friday in 2015. On the biggest shopping day of the year in Romania, 6.7 million people intend to make a purchase.


Darty, along with other French electronic stores like FNAC and Auchan advertised sales online for this annual event. The term “Black Friday” has replaced the French “Vendredi noir” in-store advertisements due to its more American sound.

Some stores in 2016 rebranded their Black Friday sales as in honor of the victims of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. In 2018, some online retailers proposed “French Days,” an attempt to replicate Black Friday in the spring (starting around the first day of May).


Advertisements for “Black Friday” sales in Germany typically use the terms “Black Week” and “Black Shopping” instead which refer to a full week of discounts rather than just one day excluding Sundays when most retail stores are closed. During this time of year, shops are open for business as usual. The prices of the goods on sale are lower than they would be during a typical week, but they are not significantly lower.

In 2006, Apple was the first major company to launch a Black Friday advertising campaign in Germany. Apple has never promoted Black Friday in Germany, instead promoting a generic “shopping event” on a single day. In its early years, the event was primarily used by online retailers as a way to attract new customers through discounts.

However, traditional retailers have begun to adopt the event as well. In 2016, German consumers spent over €1 billion ($1.3 billion) during the Black Friday weekend: A study by the Centre for Retail Research found that over the four days spanning Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016, German consumers spent about €1.3 billion ($1.54 billion).

Final Lines

Black Friday refers to the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. In the United States, it officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season.

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