Black Friday, the New American Tradition

As retailers try to make Black Friday bigger than Thanksgiving, it is fair to wonder where all the sale hoopla started as well as how many people are really participating.

By Chance Cortez and Shane Storm

We all see Black Friday as the opportune day of the year to seize what we want for a great price. Whether it’s electronics, clothes, or a blender, you will get it for a good price on Black Friday. But where does Black Friday actually come from? Why is it called Black Friday? Are very many people going this year? Where do they plan on going?

The actual story behind Black Friday is not as luminous as retailers might have you believe. According to Sarah Pruitt at, in the 1950s, Philadelphia police used the term to describe the utter pandemonium that occurred the day after Thanksgiving, when swarms of suburban shoppers and tourists engulfed the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Philly cops could not take the day off, they would also have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the excess crowds and traffic. Adding to the already pounding headache of law enforcement, shoplifters took advantage of the chaos in the stores.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philly, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried and failed to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until quite a while later, but as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positivity, rather than negativity, on them and their customers. The result was the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit. In fact, stores traditionally see bigger sales on the Saturday before Christmas.

We found that students are actually working on Black Friday and the rest say that there are just too many crazy people elbowing each other for that blender.

We surveyed 100 students at Central High School and only 42 percent of them said they were going Black Friday shopping. Walmart was a big choice for where people are going, and Best Buy was a close second. So why aren’t the other 58 percent going? We found that most are actually working on Black Friday and the rest say that there are just too many crazy people elbowing each other for that blender we mentioned before.

Thanks to Joey Anderson, the store manager at Foot Locker in the Rushmore Mall, we know that within the past couple of year’s Black Friday has been dying down because of online deals (which are better deals). Anderson compared Black Friday to a “very busy Saturday.”  With Foot Locker, their smaller stores usually make around $13,000 on Black Friday, where their larger stores can make up to $20,000. He also revealed that there are fights over some of the goods, but not often, and they are mostly just empty threats.

The store is fully equipped by scheduling everyone available. Each member of the staff works for approximately eight hours on Black Friday while the store manager works a minimum of 55 hours that week. Scheduling everyone possible particularly minimizes theft in Foot Locker.

Taken all together, it means if you’re going shopping on Black Friday, be careful of that crazy blender lady.

Photo: Black Friday by Powhusku on Flickr