In our latest SaleCycle Academy video, CMO Chris Sheen looks into the origins of Black Friday. 


Video Transcription

With Black Friday just around the corner, we bring you a quick history lesson on one of the biggest retail events of the year.

The term ‘Black Friday’ was first used to describe an annual event back in 1950s Philadelphia.

Police used the term to describe the crowds, traffic congestion and general chaos created by shoppers and tourists who flooded into Philadelphia ahead of the annual Army versus Navy football game held on that Saturday each year.

It became established as a big retail event in the city by the 1960s, and eventually caught on nationwide in the late 1980s.

The term ‘Black Friday’ marked the day of the year that stores finally started making a profit – with bank balances going into the black having been in the red up until then.

Black Friday always falls on the day after Thanksgiving in the USA – so the fourth Friday in November – and typically marks the time to get your pre-Christmas bargains.

Once established offline, it was only natural that Black Friday would move online of course, and it is now one of the biggest online shopping events of the year.

Now culminating in Cyber Monday, the Black Friday weekend has been adopted all over the globe with just about every mature ecommerce market running some kind of sale over this period.

To demonstrate the sheer scale of the phenomenon, in 2016, Black Friday sales totalled $3.34 bn, while Cyber Monday was worth $3.39bn. That’s a lot of bargain hunting.

Whilst there has been controversy around the event, from people using pepper spray to get to the best deals in Wal-Mart, and stampedes over TVs in Target, as long as there are great deals for shoppers and record breaking takings for retailers to be had – Black Friday is here to stay.