Where Did Black Friday Come From and Is It Still Worth It?

Sitting down after a nice Thanksgiving meal digging through local ads to plan your perfect 5am shopping strategy for the best deals is what Black Friday was all about. Now the stores are starting to open on Thanksgiving morning and online specials continue to increase giving shoppers more alternatives to stay in their PJ’s.

Black Friday hasn’t always been like this and actually came about because of the amount of people who went shopping and caused major traffic accidents and chaos the day after Thanksgiving. The Philadelphia Police department was given credit for calling the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” in the 60’s. They didn’t use the name in a positive way hoping to keep people off the streets and out of the stores, but the Army vs Navy football game was also held in Philly that same weekend and caused even more traffic, over-crowded sidewalks and packed stores.

Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the holiday season. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 20’s was the kickoff for the start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers have continued to use this day to move into the black. Accountants kept records by hand and red meant a loss, while black meant profit. Black Friday, Big Friday and other names have been used to describe the busiest shopping day.

The best thing about Black Friday is the Doorbusters that is most common sweet deals for TV’s and other electronics and really the only reason to even go brave the cold, crowds and traffic. Places like Walmart and other retailers are trying to guarantee if you show up, you’ll get the Doorbuster deal that only lasts a couple hours.

But are retailers going to far by opening thier doors on Thanksgiving day? We are seeing the big names like Walmart, Target, Kmart, BestBuy and many others starting deals on Thursday. Kmart received much criticism last year for opening at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and staying open for 41 hours. It seems that Thanksgiving is more about the shopping than it is about giving thanks. Do we move Black Friday to Black Thursday? The last time Black Thursday was used was October 24, 1929 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 11% at the open in very heavy volume, precipitating the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s.

We are also seeing a trend of retailers making a stand and refusing to open their doors on Thanksgiving. Outdoor Recreation retailer REI announced earlier this year they will pay employees on Black Friday not to work, but to get outside and play. They will be closed both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. REI still has huge deals to come, but they chose to give their employees their Thanksgiving day off like other retailers Nordstrom, DSW, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, and Staples that all chose to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

So is it worth going out? Target this year has “100s of doorbusters” and “1000s of deals”. The doors open at 6:00pm on Thanksgiving, While Walmart is planning its biggest Black Friday event ever with items like the Fitbit Flex at $59, a 40-inch 1080p LED TV for $149, and $25 for a Roku streaming media player. Do you wait until Cyber Monday to try and catch the deals? Retailers are putting their sales online as early as Thanksgiving day and even earlier.

After all, you will find me on the couch this year doing my shopping like usual, and I will not be alone: According to the National Retail Federation, almost half of this year’s holiday shopping will be done digitally. Reports suggest that 2015 will be the biggest for online retail to date. Lots of stores are offering free shipping for online orders, and many don’t require a purchase minimum. Still want Black Friday Deals? Visit our Black Friday Links page HERE

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