Black Friday: The Story of Black Friday

The story of Black Friday

Black Friday is right around the corner and the new tradition is a unique possibility to acquire products at extremely low prices.
But where does the expression “Black Friday” come from? And how did the tradition get adopted in Europe?

Contrary to popular belief, the expression stems from a very specific situation in Philadelphia in the 1950’s. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a special football game was played between the army and the navy. This football tradition was a massive crowd-puller for suburban families and tourists in the Philadelphia area and the city was crowded with people in this weekend.

Black Friday Philadelphia History

The influx of consumers resulted in severe traffic problems and amongst the crowd were opportunistic pickpockets and shoplifters. This made the day exceptionally busy for the Philadelphia police, who, most of all, wanted to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with their families. The policemen called the day Black Friday, because of the extreme chaos and countless reports of shoplifting and thievery.

After these incidents, the day obtained a negative reputation and even though the stores were earning on this weekend, it was necessary with a rebranding of the word and its meaning.
In 1961, stores in America attempted a new approach of calling the day “Big Friday”, but the name was only recognized in a few states.

A new image

It was actually not until the late 80’s that stores succeeded with reinventing the word Black Friday and come up with the story of “turning red numbers to black numbers”, even though stores at the time would actually make more money just before Christmas.
The name was now recognized in all of The United States and the tradition became more and more popular year by year. It didn’t take long for Black Friday to become a national holiday and today, the day is celebrated all over the world.

The international sales extravaganza has birthed additional retail holidays and today, Cyber Monday, celebrated after the Black Friday weekend, is almost as profitable as Black Friday itself.

Cyber Monday Neon Sign

Black Friday in Europe

In Europe, Black Friday is still a relatively new phenomenon and surprisingly, the concept has met mixed success in different, European countries. In larger countries, like France and Germany, it took a few years for the consumers to understand the concept, but from around 2015 Black Friday was an integrated and profitable day for stores and web shops.

In Italy, the tradition was difficult to implement, given that Italy had the lowest percentage of E-commerce companies in all of Europe. This meant that Italians were uninclined to do shopping online, until 2016 where they finally recognized the features of E-commerce, allowing concepts like Black Friday to thrive.

Compared to neighboring countries, Denmark was relatively quick to adopt the American tradition. In Denmark, there are many successful E-commerce companies and together with the electronic industry, they were the ones to bring the Black Friday message to Denmark in 2013.
In recent years, though, physical stores have put more energy into the Black Friday sale and in 2019, almost every large store and web shop are part of the sales day.

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