Black Friday Stats & Facts

Courtesy of the Find&Save team

  • Where “Black Friday” came from – Sometime prior to 1961, Philadelphia police officers created the term “Black Friday” to describe the heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic that was present on the day after Thanksgiving each year. Around 1975, the term began to spread outside of Philadelphia, however, with a new meaning. In other states, Black Friday referred to the point in the year when retailers started to make a profit (in the black). Black Friday sales have the ability to raise the year-to-date net profit of major retail chains substantially.
  • It’s a holiday, kind of – Though not a federal holiday, some states have begun observing “The Day after Thanksgiving” as one so that state government employees can take advantage of Black Friday promotions. This is done in lieu of another holiday, such as Columbus Day. Currently, 22 states consider Black Friday an official public holiday.
  • Black Friday WEEKEND – Every year the National Retail Federation releases information on the sales from Thanksgiving weekend (also referred to as “Black Friday Weekend”). The Federation considers Black Friday Weekend to be Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The number of days included in each year’s Black Friday Weekend varies.
  • What happened last Black Friday…
    • According to the National Retail Federation’s survey, in 2012, 28 percent of shoppers arrived at the stores by midnight on Black Friday. This is nearly a four-percent increase from 2011. In 2012, consumers could not pass up the deeply discounted Black Friday promotions nearly 80 percent of shoppers chose to purchase promotional items for themselves.
    • Shopping trends for 2012, stores visited 53.5 percent of consumers shopped in department stores, up from 48.7 percent in 2011. Clothing stores were frequented by 29 percent, discount stores 39.4 percent, electronics stores 33 percent, drug stores nearly 13 percent and grocery stores almost 22 percent. Online shopping was also utilized with 43.8 percent of consumers making online purchases, an increase of almost nine percent when compared to 2011.
    • The items purchased in 2012 include clothing and clothing accessories. These were at the top of the list with nearly 60 percent of consumers purchasing these items (up approximately six percent from the previous year). Books, CDs, video games and DVDs were purchased by almost 40 percent, toys, approximately 35 percent, electronics nearly 40 percent and gift card purchases increased to almost 33 percent, which is nearly a 10 percent increase from 2011.
  • Unspoken advertising rule – Prior to 1960, there was an unspoken rule that retailers would not begin their major holiday advertising campaigns until after the Thanksgiving Parades were complete. These parades took place the day after Thanksgiving. Well-known retailers like Macy’s sponsored these parades, using them to advertise. This advertising encouraged people to begin shopping and many did.
  • A little bit of controversy – In the 1930s, the day following Thanksgiving had already become the day that signified the official start of the holiday shopping season for most retailers. Eventually, retailers became dissatisfied with the length of the shopping season. At that time, Thanksgiving was held on the last Thursday of November. Strong encouragement from lobbyists prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to change Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month. This change caused a substantial amount of controversy, forcing Congress to step in and negotiate between the two camps. The compromise brought about Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November.

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