Black Friday’s Coming. Should You Care?

We should probably clear something up before talking about this year’s Black Friday: “Just where did that name come from, anyway?” It doesn’t sound very pleasant, after all.

Black Friday Origins

Nobody ever sat down and declared the day after Thanksgiving to be “Black Friday.” It sort of evolved over time. The day after Thanksgiving (or as it was known in more retail-focused circles, “the day after Macy’s Thanksgiving parade”) has been a major shopping day since the 1950s. This unofficial first day of the Christmas season (in the popular, not the religious, sense) has been increasing the population density of shopping districts for a long time, if for no other reason than the fact of so many people having the day after Thanksgiving off from work.

As for the name, it’s said the popular moniker originated with Philadelphia police officers in the 1960s. They coined “Black Friday” because the clogged streets and traffic jams it brought were such a headache for them. The more common explanation people use these days is that Black Friday is all about moving stores into “the black” in terms of sales revenue. Wherever the name comes from, it’s safe to say that Black Friday became quite the thing over time.

Some people wonder, though, if Black Friday is still a thing. And that’s a natural question. It sounds like something that could easily have been a fad, albeit a long-lived one. But if you’ve been watching TV commercials lately, or following retailers on social media, you’ve surely noticed Black Friday is alive and well.

Deals are Busting Out All Over

In a way, Black Friday is even more of a thing these days, in that it has become something of a season unto itself with its own traditions, and even some myths, that have grown around it. There are sales before Black Friday. Sales celebrating the upcoming arrival of Black Friday. Black Friday has even spawned successors, such as Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. And, at least as of last year, there were still people willing to camp out in order to get in the door first for the deals on Black Friday.

All that said, there are a few studies out there that suggest overall dedication to Black Friday seems to be waning. Many folks are thinking about getting a head start on their shopping. Others are taking a longer view and spread their shopping out over time. And of course, online shopping has changed retail quite a bit. Even traditional big-box stores do a good deal of business online. So even if folks are shopping on Black Friday, they’re not necessarily going into the stores.

Another thing about this year’s Black Friday season is the rise of the smartphone is being felt more and more. In addition to people shopping in-store and online, there are growing numbers of people choosing to place mobile orders. And why not? We do just about everything else on our phones these days.

What does it all come down to? Basically, if you want to go out and enjoy shopping in stores on Black Friday, go right ahead. You’ll probably find some fun deals. You may find the same prices on some things at other times during the year, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for them. At least, on Black Friday, you can be fairly sure whatever deals are available will be well advertised. And whatever deals you’re checking out, be sure to do your homework to make certain you’re really getting the unbelievable price you think you’re getting.

Here’s wishing you a happy holiday shopping season, whenever you decide to start it. And whenever that is, please be smart about the money you’re spending.

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