Why is Today Called “Black Friday”?

By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
The Doni Glover Show on WOLB 1010 AM (Thurs. 11a-12p)

(BALTIMORE – November 29, 2019) – Ever wonder about the origins of the term “Black Friday”? Well, so did I. I mean, honestly, as the author of “Unapologetically Black” (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Everyone’s Place in Baltimore), you already know I was thinking the obvious – like, it surely had something to do with the era of US slavery or some other calamity having to do with people of color.

After all, this is America, right? Land of the free, home of the brave. Right?

Well, to my surprise, the etymology had nothing to do with slavery at all. To say the least, I was floored! After all, black is so often used to describe something having to do with Black folks or the entire sphere of blackness. But, I digress.

It actually has to do with the busy traffic in Philadelphia. Some cops coined the phrase as they described the traffic patterns on today, the day after Thanksgiving. Other origins referred to how workers would often call-in sick so as to secure a four day weekend.

In reading, I learned that Macy’s also claimed the term back in 1924 as part of a sales promotion during their annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The goal, no doubt, was to boost shopping.

Well, you live, you learn. (Or, at least, we’re supposed to!)

In any event, this is the time of year when many retailers began to capture their largest sales of the year. And with online shopping gaining traction, a lot of this shopping has shifted. Instead of driving and dealing with traffic, a lot of folks are shopping in their PJs.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, it estimates that consumers spent $513.61 billion online in 2018, up 14.2% from 2017. To boot, Amazon is clocking some 40% of that online market.

Another source, Statista.com, had similar findings: “In 2017, e-commerce sales accounted for 9 percent of all retail sales in United States, this figure is expected to reach 12.4 percent in 2020. In 2016, the leading e-retailer in the United States was Amazon with 46.66 billion U.S. dollars in e-commerce sales of physical goods in the United States. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have also been catching up on the sales potential of online sales – in 2016, Walmarts U.S. e-commerce sales amounted to an estimated 12.73 billion U.S. dollars.”

Hence, by the time that first Turkey Day plate is knocked out, the online onslaught kicks off long before today.

In fact, CNBC reported yesterday:

*Early data released by Adobe shows the online retail sales on Thursday will reach $4.4 billion.

*That represents a 18.9% year-over-year increase from last year’s sales total of $3.7 billion.

*So far, $2.2 billion in goods have been sold online, with nearly half of those sales coming from mobile devices.