Friday, December 04, 2009


Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States and marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. I’ve always been a little puzzled as to why this day is termed Black Friday. Despite the potential for feeling a little dusty immediately following the merriment of gorging oneself on turkey and adult beverages, I’m at a bit of a loss.

Australian’s are accustomed to the notion of any Friday falling on the thirteenth day of the month resulting in paranoid caution being handed out by those who’ve surrendered to superstition. Given this date is well into its twenties it terminates this reasoning. Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States so Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.

Of the utmost significance in my confusion regarding this matter is that this day isn’t merely the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, it marks the beginning of some of the greatest sales you will come across in the US. Strangely termed, the Black Friday sales? Maybe I’m missing something but seventy percent off high-end designer goods does not strike a ‘black’ cord with me? The only uneasiness about discovering patent animal print Louboutin heels in my size at $214USD is the woman hovering over me seemingly waiting for me to discard them.

In Australia, and more specifically the ‘Smart State’, we hold sales on Boxing Day and usually throw open the doors of our shopping Meccas to a throng of eager procurers at the usual scheduled time of store opening. The United States on the other hand has shopping malls that open at midnight on the evening of Thanksgiving. Midnight. Surely only the truly dedicated are fronting stores at that time of night post Thanksgiving feasts and alcoholic egg drinks?

According to Reuters, in 2007, 135 million people participated in the Black Friday shopping rush. While Black Friday is not an official holiday many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday, increasing the number of potential shoppers. Despite some midnight kick offs, most retailers typically open at 5 or 6AM. Similarly to the Australian Boxing Day sales, upon opening, retailers offer doorbuster deals to draw crowds to their stores.

The term dates back to at least 1966 and has become more common in other parts of the United States since 2000. According to Wikipedia; Black Friday originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).

While I have never felt the need to wait in line with hundreds of people at midnight or to arrive at 5am, I am a veteran of the Black Friday Sales in Hawaii with this year marking my tenth. A special anniversary of sorts.

Albeit a little later than usual, the insider Blog to pre Christmas sales in Hawaii will be posted from December 12th.

(Image Credit: Wikipedia - Black Friday Shoppers 2009)

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