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Historically, Black Friday was the kick-off of the holiday shopping season. But today, we see tinsel and Santa blow-ups adorning stores even before Halloween. So as you revel in (or grumble about) the holiday season this November, here are a few fun facts about Black Friday that might surprise you.

Leaders attempted to change the name of Black Friday

While many folks believe the origin of Black Friday represents the first day that retailers start making a profit – or working in the “black” – the real story is a little more complex.

In the 1950s, police in Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued in the city the day after Thanksgiving as suburban shoppers flooded the city along with Army-Navy football fans attending the annual football game in Philadelphia. The city was so crowded, police officers had to work overtime and deal with hordes of crowds, shoplifters and various rebel rousers.

By 1961, the event was so well entrenched in Philadelphia that the city leaders tried to change the name to “Big Friday” to remove the negative connotation associated with Black Friday. Needless to say, they were unsuccessful, and eventually, the Black Friday idea spread across the country.

The best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday

We love bargains. And that’s why many of us get up at the crack of dawn and wait in lines outside stores to get a great deal. But are we really getting the best prices?

A recent study done by WalletHub, a market research firm, shows that 14 percent of products sold on Black Friday are similar to the typical store prices. In addition, 17 percent of all items were, in fact, more expensive than what could be found on Amazon (and that really shouldn’t surprise anyone). Retail pundits report the biggest sales are now taking place on the Saturday before December 25!

shoppers crowding store

The number of Black Friday shoppers increases every year

In 2016, more than 100 million Americans braved the crowds on Black Friday, spending approximately $655.8 billion. In 2017, that number is expected to increase to $682 billion. These purchases will be paid for by:

  • 42% Debit Card
  • 32% Credit Card
  • 24% Cash
  • 2% Check

Black Friday has spread to more than 15 countries

Canada, England, Brazil, India, France and Mexico are among the countries that have embraced the annual shopping frenzy. Canada, in particular, did so out of necessity when its businesses realized they were losing sales when consumers crossed the border to spend their hard-earned Canadian money on American goods.

Mexico adopted the annual shopping event in 2011 and extended it to the whole weekend, calling it “El Buen Fin,” which translates to “the good end” or “the good weekend.” El Buen Fin coincides with Mexico’s holiday weekend that celebrates the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

In Britain, there are stories of consumers barricading themselves in various Tesco stores demanding items that were advertised as on sale – even though the items had already sold out. The old saying that Brits “keep a stiff upper lip” didn’t hold true when it came to Black Friday!

Walmart was responsible for the “Black Friday creep”

Mega-retailer Walmart in 2011 was the first retailer to open its doors on Thanksgiving Day, beginning the “Black Friday creep” – what became the term for Black Friday beginning earlier and earlier.

Black Friday creep momentum has somewhat slowed and some large retailers have even taken a stand against opening on Thanksgiving. But still, more than 30 million consumers are expected to jump start their Black Friday shopping after they finish their turkey dinner.

And Amazon gets this year’s award for earliest Black Friday start with its November 1 “Countdown to Black Friday” sales event. This month, new deals are posted every day until the 24th.

Is your business offering Black Friday deals? Let us know in the comments section.

Joe Myers

Author Joe Myers

Joe is the Executive Account Director at InQuest Marketing. He leads the charge on several key accounts and research initiatives, and supports new business efforts. Joe's favorite InQuest memory is moving into the current (larger) office space following tremendous growth as an organization. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer whose hobbies include gardening and swimming.

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