After filling up on a gigantic feast on Thanksgiving Day, it has become a tradition for many across the country to get up extremely early the next day, now known as “Black Friday,” go out and stuff their shopping bags. It’s a feast day for consumers, as well as retailers, as stores put on mind-blowing sales and shoppers flock for bargains on what is widely considered to be the start of the holiday shopping season. What’s behind this retail frenzy? Take a look at the stats and see what history has to say.
The early bird catches the deal.
Black is still the color of the sky when many shoppers rise to go after the day’s pre-dawn deals. According to a 2009 survey conducted by BIGresearch on behalf of the National Retail Federation (NRF), 31.2 percent of shoppers surveyed arrived at their retail destination of choice by 5:00 A.M. on Black Friday last year, beating out the number of early morning shoppers that hit the stores by that time the year prior. The earliest early birds, a stout 3.3 percent, arrived to start their shopping at the wee hour of 12:00 A.M.
A sale by any other name…
Two theories exist as to how the day of deals immediately following Thanksgiving came to be known as “Black Friday.”
According to a 2009 article published in TIME magazine, the phrase “Black Friday” was first applied in the 1960s in the fair city of Philadelphia by newspapers in reference to the morass of crowds resulting from the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping haste. Apparently, some felt the scene was reminiscent of the rush of madness seen after the stock market panic of September 24, 1864, also known as “Black Friday,” and this is what the phrase originally referenced.
According to the NRF, the term “Black Friday” comes from the retail accounting perspective; it is said to refer to the stores’ profit margins in the days when the books were kept by hand with red ink signaling loss and black ink representing profit. As one of the most major shopping days of the year, “Black Friday” sales can push retailers’ finances from the “red” to the “black.”
Last minute shopping.
If you join the crowds, but don’t get your entire list checked off over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, don’t feel alone. According to the 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, compiled for NRF by BIGresearch, the average shopper in 2009 only had about 46.7 percent of his or her projected holiday gift-buying wrapped up by the second week of December.
Statistically speaking, according to Shopper Trak, “The World Leader in Retail Traffic Management,” Black Friday is not generally the busiest shopping day of the year. Owing to last-minute shoppers, it is often the Saturday before Christmas that pulls in the most sales.
If you dream of deals, wake up early and join the masses the morning of November 26, and become part of the 2010 season’s future fun facts and figures.
For the latest projections on this holiday season and more on Black Friday, visit www.nrf.com. Happy holiday shopping!