The tradition of Black Friday has stemmed from negative roots and has borne urban myths of its origin along the way.  The officially sanctioned origin of Black Friday, although not accurate, is that businesses used the Friday after Thanksgiving to restore their loss-making companies into a profitable situation through offering customers heavily discounted bargains, to sell high volumes at low margins.  In other words, taking their businesses out of the Red and into the Black.

Black Friday navy vs army football image

The actual birth of Black Friday comes from a negative and chaotic beginning. The term Black Friday was used by Philadelphian police in the 1950s to describe the Friday after Thanksgiving due to the mayhem caused by the onslaught of shoppers and tourists into the city for the traditional Army vs Navy football game on Saturday. The police had to work long hours dealing with excessive amounts of people, traffic and policing the shoplifters taking advantage of the crowds.  Quite ironic that celebrations of gratitude during Thanksgiving would lead to the birth of chaos that would be named Black Friday, which in modern times is associated with similar chaos the day after Thanksgiving.


The tradition of Thanksgiving is an occasion for Americans to show gratitude for the year’s harvest and other blessings. With the economic implications of the Global Covid-19 Pandemic, many people will be at a loss in finding anything to be grateful for, as well as taking advantage of any of the bargains.  The Pandemic has reshaped the world and how things are done.  This has also had an impact on Black Friday.


Traditionally, it starts at midnight and lasts 24 hours. Owing to the fact that with Lockdown restrictions around the world, retailers have had to re-think this money-making day, and find a way to make sure that shoppers still buy into their deals.  The one trend that many businesses have adopted is the extension of the traditional 24-hour period to “Black 5Day” and Black November and some even extending specials into December.


This day is also synonymous with massive crowds queuing for hours for the doors to open at retailers. The Pandemic has put a stop to this tradition.  Social distancing restrictions in many countries is also going to mean that more people will do online shopping or make use of shopping services to avoid going to actual stores.  Other consumers are making the decision to try and do good on the day by shopping specials in their local area, which uplifts their immediate community, where businesses are still trying to recover economically after lockdown.  It also reduced plastic pollution as a result of packaging that would have been used to deliver the deals if bought online.


Black Friday Sale image
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Modern Black Friday

Another tradition of the Black Friday experience is that consumers wait the whole year to get discounts on usually expensive tech gadgets and items on their purchases bucket lists.  The Pandemic has decimated the world’s economies, which is going to alter the buying behaviours of the consumers.  Many will change the usual Black Friday wish list of wants into careful discerned decisions of need.  The businesses and retailers offering deals and specials have to accept that the colour and look of this tradition is changing.  The brands on sale have to live up their customer’s expectations.


Consumers are shopping with new eyes, and with this discernment comes a demand for brands taking responsibility and a stand for social and environmental causes.  This has meant that some businesses are turning the sale day into a force of good, where they are donating all or parts of their profits from the day to charitable causes, both socially and environmentally.  This movement started in the UK and has become known as Green Friday with more and more brands joining in to ensure that business can continue while restoring the relationship we have with each other as well as the planet.  This is the beginning of a tradition we can all be thankful for.

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