Black Friday is a focal point in the year for millions of Americans, falling on the Friday following Thanksgiving each year. Many people across the U.S. have this day off from work for the official “Thanksgiving Friday” holiday.
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The United States has many holidays that are unique to its borders. Some are official national holidays, while others are merely customary celebrations. Black Friday is one of those unsanctioned holidays.
While widely known and observed across the nation, Black Friday is not recognized as a federal holiday although several states within the country do choose to observe the date within their own territories, often calling it simply “The Day After Thanksgiving.”
Based heavily in the consumer faction of the country, Black Friday is either considered a day of recuperating from the Thanksgiving Day feast, a day of marathon shopping or, for those working in the retail world, the longest day of the year.
Recognizing Black Friday
Black Friday does not occur on one specific date. Always immediately following Thanksgiving, Black Friday falls on the fourth Friday of November, which causes the date to vary. While not recognized as a legitimate federal holiday, twenty-four out of fifty states do acknowledge the date as a local government holiday.
They close their doors for business starting on Thanksgiving and reopen on the following Monday. While some privately owned businesses may remain closed, most companies in the service industry – be it retail or food service – are open for business.
The History of Black Friday
Black Friday is one of the newer holidays recognized by the American people. The name “Black Friday” was said to originally have been coined by the local police department in Philadelphia in the 1960s. First mentioned in a newsletter circulated by the department’s public relations team in 1961, the day after Thanksgiving was deemed “Black” due to the high levels of traffic jams and mobs of customers that were becoming problematic for the local officials.
After local merchants declared the nickname to be bad for business due to its negative connotation, the deputy city representative, Abe Rosen, attempted to spin the term “Big Friday” as a positive approach to the shopping rush.
The upbeat “Big Friday” did not catch on as Rosen had hoped, and the pessimistic “Black Friday” continued to make headway in local newspapers well into the 1980s. In another attempt to place a positive outlook on the term, an alternate theory began to surface at the end of 1981.
According to an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the meaning actually points to accounting practices. At the time, record keeping was still being completed in handwritten ledgers. Accountants used red ink to symbolize a loss in profits, whereas the black ink represented a positive increase in sales. It is said that “Black Friday” was the beginning of the holiday shopping rush, and thus the time period when stores were brought out of the red and into black.
Impacts of Black Friday
Although Black Friday is a momentous occasion for those on the business end of retail, it does have many detrimental effects on others. Some claim that the shopping holiday puts an unfair demand on store workers by presenting excessively extended operating hours. This leaves them with inadequate staff to control crowds, and forces them to work longer than regulated shifts.
Perhaps the worst side effect of the Black Friday craze is the violence that has occurred over recent years. Limited quantities of the best sale items and door busters offered by companies have resulted in customers and employees being stampeded, sometimes causing death.
Despite not being an official holiday, Black Friday sees millions of Americans camping outside of shops every year. While mostly consumer driven, some view the day as an opportunity to spend quality time with family and enjoy an extra day away from work.