If Thanksgiving Day is the acknowledgement of how much we have to be thankful for, Black Friday is the acknowledgment of how much we still want. In a testament to American values, we spend Thursday paying tribute to gluttony and Friday paying tribute to materialism. Here are five things you may not have known about the retail binge we all love to hate.
BLACK FRIDAY DETERMINED THE DATE OF THANKSGIVING
Before we all shake our heads and condemn retailers and shoppers for commercializing a family holiday, consider the fact that this is not a new development. Retailers are actually the ones who determined when we celebrate Thanksgiving. From the time Abe Lincoln first declared it a national holiday, to the 1930s, Thanksgiving was held on the last Thursday of the month.
In 1939, that was the fifth Thursday and happened to be the last day of the month as well. Retailers cried foul about the timing of Turkey Day and the lost profits. They petitioned President Franklin Roosevelt to move the holiday to the fourth Thursday of the month. Shortly thereafter, the fourth Thursday — not the last — became the date of Thanksgiving.
IT ISN’T ACTUALLY THE BUSIEST SHOPPING DAY OF THE YEAR
The buildup to Black Friday may be the biggest retail advertising campaign of the year, but the distinction of busiest shopping day actually goes to what is known as “Super Saturday,” or the Saturday before Christmas.
Black Friday isn’t even the second busiest shopping day of the year. That day, goes to the day after Christmas, when we return the stuff we got for the stuff we want. Black Friday is the third busiest shopping day of the year.
MICKEY MOUSE HAS NOTHING ON BLACK FRIDAY
More Americans participate in Black Friday than go to Disneyland or Disney World each year. This doesn’t necessarily qualify Black Friday as a tourist attraction, but it certainly makes it a spectacle.
BLACK FRIDAY SALES ARE DWINDLING
But holiday sales aren’t. As retailers move the needle on door-busters to Thanksgiving Day, the buzz for Black Friday has been fading, with serious shoppers running out of steam before Black Friday even begins.
Also, Small Business Saturday and Cyber-Monday have taken their toll on traditional Black Friday sales. Americans are still shopping until they drop after Thanksgiving, they just aren’t dropping as much cash at physical retail locations on Black Friday.
THE MONIKER “BLACK FRIDAY” ISN’T AS OLD AS YOU THINK
If you don’t remember the day after Thanksgiving being called “Black Friday” when you were a kid, you’re not alone. The name didn’t stick nationally until some time in the 1990s.