Why is Black Friday called Black Friday? Meaning of today’s big sale event and how it got its name - explained

Black Friday is one of the biggest discount days of the year - and signals the start of the Christmas shopping season

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Black Friday is synonymous with big savings, and it has quickly become one of the biggest discount days of the year and signals the start of the Christmas shopping season - but how did Black Friday get its name?

Chances are you’re not the only one wondering, so we’ve put together a quick guide on what Black Friday means, how it was used for the shopping extravaganza and the origins of the phrase.

What does Black Friday mean?

In recent years, Black Friday has meant shopping. In short, it is a massive sales event for a host of retailers across the world who advertise discounts on big ticket items, as well as some smaller ones too. The day falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving and in 2022 will take place on 25 November in the US, where the retail extravaganza first began.

Many participating retailers open shops earlier and keep the doors open until late (sometimes midnight) to give shoppers every chance to take part. In the past, Black Friday has brought about frantic scenes of shoppers clearing the shelves and even squabbling over sale items inside and outside stores.

Last year, with various restrictions and lockdowns imposed to limit the spread of Covid, many people went online to see what deals there were.

How did Black Friday get its name?

How Black Friday got its name is a point of discussion. However, it is widely accepted that the shopping spectacle got its name after people would flock to the shops on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US.

The earliest evidence of the phrase being used to describe the mad dash to the high street was in 1961, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the US. Philadelphia would also host the Army-Navy football game on this day, which caused chaos with thousands of tourists embarking on the city.

Police officers would dub the day ‘Black Friday’ due to heavy volumes of traffic and pedestrians on the city centre streets - and because they had to work long shifts. The phrase has now spread over the world to describe the biggest shopping day of the year when many retailers slash prices to turn a profit.

What are the origins of the phrase Black Friday?

The origins of the phrase go back years, to the 19th Century, when two Wall Street financiers Jay Gould and Kim Fisk attempted to corner the gold market.

The pair bought as much gold as they could with the intention of hiking up the price, however, President Grant ordered the Treasury to release a large supply of gold.

This put a stop to the gold rush and the pair’s plan but also caused prices to fall 20%, meaning fortunes were both made and lost in a single day and left many bankrupt.

More recently, the phrase has been used to describe different calamities, including the last Friday before Christmas when party-goers hit the pubs and bars in city centres.

Historically, it marked the day when retailers saw their margins turn from red (loss) to black (profit) each year, to the most popular day of the year when workers would call in sick.