In early September, the Philadelphia Police Department (1911-1913) used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic.
As the saying goes, “When the mood strikes, go to the mall.” And, indeed, that is how Philadelphia and many other American cities began to celebrate Black Friday. For many years, police in the Big Apple were regular visitors to the City of Brotherly Love, where they would make their homecoming in style. During this time, “Black Friday” was simply the name given to the shopping day after Thanksgiving.
Why is Black Friday so popular in Philadelphia? One explanation is that the city’s large population of artists, writers, and shoppers (along with ample parking) makes it a great place to find great deals on clothing and home goods. Another reason is that the city’s extensive underground train system makes it easy to get around the city. Finally, many workers and students visit during the shopping season to take advantage of the many deals that are available.
When did Black Friday begin?
On the day after Thanksgiving, as the story goes, a man named John F. Kennedy attempted to end the holiday season on a positive note, announcing in a New York Times op-ed that he and his wife would take a short vacation from work on the day after Thanksgiving, to spend the holiday weekend with their families. Kennedy’s proposal was quickly adopted nationwide, and today, almost every major city and major retail mall in the United States has some kind of official “Black Friday” tradition.
In recent years, the tradition of including an opening ceremony appearance by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the start of the holiday shopping season has faded, though it is still fairly common for shoppers to camp out over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to secure a place in front of the line and thus a better chance at getting desired items.
In an effort to create a seamless omnichannel experience, brands will use innovations that help customers connect their online and offline shopping experience. One Guidance client uses location-based services to help customers locate their nearest brick-and-mortar store to enhance their online experience of the brand. Using a widget, customers can interact with their personal expert consultant and select the product that best suits their needs. Customers are encouraged to ask questions, set appointments and ultimately visit the store to discover their perfect, customized product.
With Black Friday sandwiched in between a national holiday on Thursday and the popular college football game on Saturday, it became a favorite day for tourists to shop — often to the point of excess (and even looting).
Because shopping back then could get just as intense as it is today, the term “Black Friday” proved hard to shake. Even as local Philadelphia businesses tried to change it to “Big Friday,” the gloomier term held sway.
While Thanksgiving is a decidedly North American holiday, the UK and Australia have gotten in on the action in their own ways, also. Let’s take a look at how our international friends celebrate Black Friday.