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Black Friday Origin Story

Black Friday Neon

According to the always trust worthy wikipedia the term Black Friday started back in 1961 in Philadelphia. They claim it was to describe the crowds and traffic from the police force.

However, retailers as long as I can remember have used the term to imply that up to that point in the year the profit was in the red or at break even. They only “went into the black” – meaning profit from Black Friday to Christmas time.

US based retailers certainly kicked that off since the timing was immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday.

You can always count on marketers to ruin everything so the race for when Black Friday begins started back after the turn from the 20th to 21st century. Wikipedia reports that Kmart moved their Black Friday opening to 7pm on the night of Thanksgiving – which at the time was considered crazy talk.

Within a few years being open earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving became the norm.

Many variations of this “event” type of sale have come to life including Amazon Prime day, Alibaba singles day, and even the more closely related Cyber Monday – which implies that the e-commerce people get some special benefit on the Monday following Black Friday.

Although the sales trends remain high in terms of year over year growth there is a growing resistance to stores opening on Thanksgiving.

Target in November of 2021 announced that their stores will no longer be open during the Thanksgiving day time frame. Importantly, they claim that this is a permanent change.

However, considering the shortage of workers and other supply chain drama in 2021 I would not bet the farm that this permanent change, will in fact remain permanent.

The real pressure for Target will not come from consumers, but more likely from their competition. Historically each time a competitor expanded the hours of operation to gather up more of the holiday excitement; other retailers would match or even try to “one up” the latest aggressor.

Notwithstanding Target’s move there are no shortages of ways for people to spend money for this Black Friday both in traditional retail and online including the leading marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and the other usual suspects.

eCommerce Sellers have high expectations moving into this holiday season.

The winners will have inventory and the losers will be watching the waiting times at the ports as the season passes by while their products are jammed up in the historic supply chain issues.

For Amazon FBA and other marketplace sellers the activity on Cyber Monday also must be considered a high potential day to explode sales. This shopping holiday is growing increasingly popular. According to data from Adobe, shoppers spent a record-breaking $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday in 2020. This dethroned the previous year($9.4 billion in 2019) as the most profitable Cyber Monday.

There is little doubt that this year both Black Friday and Cyber Monday will reach new records and that bodes well for all of the Amazon sellers who actually have inventory to sell.

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