Why is Black Friday Black?



First of all, let me thank the Standard Group of Newspapers for taking over the publication of this column. Although I have been penning this piece since 2012, this is the first one on page five of this newspaper.

I have just read Boxing Day is no longer the biggest shopping day in Canada. Instead it has been replaced by the third Friday in November, affectionately known as Black Friday.

The first question that comes to mind is, why would anyone call it Black Friday? It certainly doesn’t have much of a happy ‘let’s go shopping’ ring to it, unlike Boxing Day, which makes you want to buy boxes and boxes of things.

I did a little digging into the history of Black Friday, and how it came to be Canada’s biggest shopping day. Of course, it isn’t really our day, as we borrowed it from our neighbours to the south.

It falls on the day after the American Thanksgiving. Black Friday has grown into one of the most notable days, where die hard shoppers have an opportunity to bolt, at top speed, through stores, in search of hundreds of bargains. Stores open at midnight on Thanksgiving (or sooner), credit card companies reinforce their internet services and malls employ serious security personnel.

September 24, 1869, was the day two speculators created a boom-and-bust in gold prices. A stock market crash followed, prices fell 20 percent and the term ’Black’ Friday had been coined.

In 1905, the Canadian department store Eaton's, began the first Thanksgiving Day parade by bringing Santa on a wagon through the streets of downtown Toronto. Eight live reindeer were added seven years later and by 1916, seven floats representing nursery rhyme characters, joined Santa in the parade.

Macy's Department Store was so impressed with the Eaton’s venture, it decided to launch its famous Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. The parade boosted shopping for the following day, the anniversary of the original ‘Black’ Friday.

5.8 Million people in Canada bought only online, where as 5.1 million bought only in stores. 6.5 Million people did both, which means that 11.6 million Canadians went outside to shop. The average Canadian spent $335 between the US Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. In the US, people spent $5 billion dollars on Black Friday alone, and $38 billion over the five day Thanksgiving weekend.

I suspect the Black Friday concept is here to stay, and if we are going to adapt this day as our biggest shopping experience, we should create a Canadian brand. Maybe we can call it ‘Lorne GREEN’ or ‘Conrad BLACK’ day. ‘RED Kelly’ is another on my list, but my all-time favourite is our own, Lance BROWN Friday… shop ‘till you drop.

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