For the past week I have been bagging customers’ purchases in Northeastern University Bookstore bags that are cluttered with coupons and advertisements about sales that are going on this Thanksgiving week. I was surprised when I first saw that we were handing out coupon books for places like the clothing store Express, but I figured that companies have their way of advertising and why not do it at a college campus?
If you are one of the people who gets up super early the day after Thanksgiving, then I think it is safe to assume that you have been checking through the advertisements and preparing for your upcoming purchases. I bet you have been flipping through the pages, making notes, tearing out coupons, and have drafted a plan of action. I usually go with the method of get into Best Buy, find some DVDs and yet another USB stick and bolt to get back to bed, but hey, everyone is entitled to their personal shopping strategies.
So, how exactly did this “holiday” come into existence? It actually is not an official holiday; however, most people, except for the bankers and the people working in retail, do have the day off. The date’s name, Black Friday, stems originally from September 24, 1869–a day of stock market catastrophe. In any case, the day after Thanksgiving is exactly the opposite of a stock market catastrophe. Not surprisingly, it was the retail stores that eventually turned Black Friday into a shop-aholic’s tradition.
What happened was that during the late 19th century and early 20th century, department stores sponsored Santa parades or Thanksgiving Day parades. They then kind of made an unofficial rule that no store would attempt at Christmas advertising before the parade was over, so they started on the next day instead! So, in reality there is not too much history to the day. The earliest reference to this day being called Black Friday was in 1965 by Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society in reference to the city of Philadelphia and to the heavy traffic on that day.
Created and practiced by retailers, Black Friday certainly has become an interesting shopping tradition.