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What Is Black Friday?

To most this is the most wonderful time of the year, with many getting ready for a fun-filled Christmas spent with family. For others, especially retailers, it’s all about making as much money as possible, with the American tradition of Black Friday invading the season of holiday shopping. But what is Black Friday? Where did the tradition start? When did it arrive in the UK? Read on to find out more.

Origin Of Name

Historians have followed the term ‘Black Friday’ back to the 1800s when it was used to refer to frequent stock market crashes, with the first time involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of gold flooding the market. On 24th September 1869 Jay Gould and James Fisk attempted to corner the market on the New York Stock Exchange. When the government caught wind of their idea they flooded the market, dramatically decreasing the price and foiling their plan.

Although founded in the 1800s the term didn’t take off countrywide. However, it continued to be used in Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, to refer to the huge crowds brought in over the holiday season, causing chaos on the roads and massive traffic jams. Although shoppers and retailers tried to renamed it as ‘Big Friday’, Black Friday’s popularity continued to soar, with the phrase spreading across the rest of America in the 1990s.

It’s also rumoured that the term came to light to refer to shops going ‘into the black’ due to the sheer amount of money made over the holiday shopping period.


Landing on the Friday after Thanksgiving (typically the last Thursday of November), Black Friday is stated year on year as the busiest shopping day in the US, with many stores opening early and shutting late, some even pushing the limits and opening on Thanksgiving evening. Since 2001 Black Friday has regularly been crowned the most popular shopping day in America, with retailers making an incredible $50.9 billion in 2014 alone! With 133 million people up and down the country heading into town to bag a bargain things do get heated, with security and the police having to step in to break up tussles.

UK’s Black Friday

Although the tradition has been recognised since the 1990s it wasn’t until 2003 that it landed in the UK, with electronic retailer Currys cashing in on the name to boost sales of laptops and DVD players. Hundreds of shops now participate, from clothing stores to supermarkets, encouraging shoppers to make the most of their cheap deals that’re apparently ‘exclusive’ to the day.

However, as in America, tensions rise and security services can be stretched to the limit, with some branding Black Friday an ‘Americanism’ brought over to exploit the panic of Christmas shopping.

Cyber Monday

If Black Friday’s mania wasn’t enough then Cyber Monday just ups the ante. Landing on the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend, Cyber Monday was founded after online retailers noticed a surge in sales, mostly due to the tailing off of the holiday weekend and shoppers looking to the internet to find more deals.

Officially recognised since 2005, Cyber Monday has become a worldwide phenomenon, with US retailers stating that they made $2.29 billion on top of Black Friday’s profits!