Black Friday has been an annual landmark for both retailers and consumers for decades. Over time, it has gone beyond a 24-hour event to become a multiday, multinational shopping spectacle.
But where did Black Friday come from? How did it reach this level of impact on the world of commerce?
It might be tempting to imagine Black Friday sprang forth fully formed from the mind of some marketing genius. In reality, the history of Black Friday is hazy and reads more like the stuff of urban folklore. One fact is crystal clear, though: No retailer can afford to miss out on it!
The following infographic explores the history of Black Friday and offers predictions for the future. With this, retailers can better understand the origin of the day and get essential insights to make the next Black Friday a success.
Black Friday Infographic
Following is the text content of the infographic, or you can jump down to the conclusion:
The History and Future of Black Friday
Black Friday is a critical shopping event for retailers. Brands compete fiercely for consumer attention and dollars, and marketers begin preparing months in advance.
Learn about the origin of Black Friday plus what the future holds!
3 Tragic “Black” Days
MYTH: The term Black Friday refers to being “in the black,” which means being financially healthy and profitable.
REALITY: The term was originally used to refer to dark or tragic days.
- 1869: On “Black Friday” September 24, the gold market crashed when financiers attempted to corner the market.
- 1873: On “Black Friday” June 17 in Nashville, TN, 72 people died of cholera during an epidemic.
- 1929: On “Black Tuesday” October 29, the New York Stock Exchange crashed.
TIMELINE: How Black Friday Evolved into a Retail Extravaganza
- 1950s: Aggravated Philadelphia police officers began referring to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday due to excessive traffic and crowding.
- 1960s: Philadelphia city officials made renovations and attempted to rebrand Black Friday as a positive Big Friday shopping day. (The name didn’t stick.)
- 1970s and ‘80s: Black Friday developed as a regional event in the city and suburbs of Philadelphia.
- Late 1980s: National retailers began adopting Black Friday as an opportunity for sales.
- 1990s: Black Friday grew in popularity, but some retailers advertised “After-Thanksgiving Sales” and avoided the term Black Friday due the negative connotations.
- 2005: The National Retail Federation, having noticed the spike in internet sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving, coined the term Cyber Monday.
- 2010: American Express established Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to support small local businesses.
Black Friday (and Similar Events) Across the Globe
First held: Nov. 11, 2009
E-commerce company Alibaba launched the first Singles Day event based on an unofficial holiday in China for single people to celebrate themselves.
First held: July 15, 2015
Amazon launched the first Prime Day with deals for Amazon Prime customers worldwide.
2020 Consumer Spending
- $9 Billion, US Black Friday, 1-day period, 22% increase YoY
- $10.4 Billion, Global Prime Day, 2-day period, 45.1% increase YoY
- $10.8 Billion, US Cyber Monday, 1-day period, 15.1% increase YoY
- $74.1 Billion, Singles Day, 11-day period
Singles Day outsells Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day combined!!
Many countries see huge sales spikes on Black Friday (based on 2018 data):
- 2418%, Germany
- 2063%, US
- 1952%, South Africa
- 1886%, Canada
- 1708%, UK
- 1331%, Nigeria
The Global Average Sales Increase on Black Friday is 663%.
The FUTURE of Black Friday
If 2020 couldn’t kill Black Friday, nothing can. Black Friday will be a milestone event for retail and e-commerce through 2021 and beyond.
Forecast for US Holiday Retail Sales in 2021: 2.7% Increase
Forecast for E-Commerce Sales:
- 23.7% Increase on Thanksgiving Day
- 22.9% Increase on Black Friday
What Consumers EXPECT for Black Friday:
- A Connected, Omnichannel Experience: 72% of internet users say a disconnected experience would make them change providers/brands.
- Personalization: 63% of North American and UK consumers expect personalized communications from brands.
- Amazing Deals: Half of US shoppers expect discounts between 26 and 50%.
The Top 5 Channels for Black Friday Purchasing:
- Digital Marketplaces (Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, etc.)
- Mobile Devices (any transaction on a phone)
- Store Websites (placed on any device)
- Store Apps
Sources: eMarketer, Statista, NRF.com, Black-Friday.global, CNBC, Digitalcommerce360.com, Forbes, Blackfriday.com, Newspapers.com, Tennessean.com
Black Friday: Bigger, Better, and More Personal
In today’s era of digital-first retail, Black Friday is bigger than ever before, but that also means the competition has also grown at the same (or possibly even faster) pace.
Offering half-hearted discounts on items dug from the dark depths of storage won’t cut it, not in this age where consumers flock toward value and personalized experiences. The retailers who win will be the ones who connect with consumers on their preferred channels and make them uniquely tailored offers.
For your next Black Friday, it’s time to go big and get personal.
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Senior Content Marketing Manager
About the author
Virginia is a wordsmith with a passionate drive for bringing brands to life through storytelling. As a content manager for Emarsys, she continually seeks to make the written word more engaging and enriching, so readers can walk away with valuable insights.
Connect with Virginia: LinkedIn