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The origins of Black Friday

The busiest shopping day of the year is almost upon us. A day when chaos reigns and all self-control goes out the window as shoppers desperately try to get their hands on the best bargains before Christmas.

But how did “Black Friday” start and where did the name come from? Hopefully we can shed some light on the matter.

The term “Black Friday” was first recorded in a magazine advert in 1966 by Early Apfelbaum, a rare stamp dealer.

He said that the phrase was used by the Philadelphia Police Department to describe the huge traffic jams and overcrowding that occurred on the day after Thanksgiving.

So, this day originally started out with extremely negative connotations, compounded by names given to two of the biggest stock market crashes in history; “Black Monday” in 1987 and “Black Tuesday” in 1929.

Despite this, as Black Friday is an extremely profitable day for retailers, they endeavoured to turn the name into a positive. Nowadays, the name has come to reflect retail success with the idea that accountants generally use black ink to record profit and red ink to signify loss.

There have, however, been some recent examples of Black Friday violence which have brought back the negative connotations.

For example, in 2013 there was widespread chaos in Asda stores throughout the UK, featuring stampedes, scuffles and short tempers and in 2012 two people were shot whilst fighting over parking space outside of a Walmart in Florida.

But one of the worst examples came in 2008 when a man was trampled to death when a crowd of around 2,000 people rushed a Walmart store in New York, also injuring 11 other people including a pregnant woman.

Let’s hope that this year, Black Friday will be remembered for the positives rather than the negatives.

Sam is Head of Content at Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and has more than six years' experience as a reporter and content writer, having held the positions of Production Editor, Staff Writer, and Senior Business Writer at ITProPortal.