A Brief History of “Black Friday”

Black Friday: it’s the day people fight over marked-down IPads at four in the morning and women wrench at $25 Betsy Johnson dresses in a tug-of-war.  But where does the term “Black Friday” come from?

Most people know it as a term that refers to the day when retailers turn enough profit to be “in the black” — and old accounting term used when businesses were making a profit and the numbers were recorded in the ledgers using black ink.  “In the black” is the opposite of “in the red” when businesses were losing money and the numbers were recorded in red ink.

But the term “Black Friday” was first used in the ’60s and early ’70s in Philadelphia to describe the heavy traffic that commenced on the day after Thanksgiving.

After 1975, the term was heard outside of Philadelphia and eventually referred to retail instead of traffic.  The two now go hand in hand and most people who don’t want to dodge shoppers in parking lots or be injured in a scurry for big screen TVs on clearance will just stay inside and order online.


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