Black Friday (shopping)

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This article addresses the United States shopping event called Black Friday. For other uses, see Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season, although retailers often decorate for the Christmas season weeks before-hand. Many retailers open very early (typically 5 A.M.) and offer doorbuster deals to draw people to their stores. Although Black Friday has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season for decades, the term has been traced back only to the 1970s and did not achieve widespread popularity until about 2002.

Black Friday is frequently but erroneously referred to in the media as the busiest retail shopping day of the year. While it has been the busiest day in terms of customer traffic,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> in terms of actual sales volume Black Friday is usually the fifth to tenth busiest day.<ref>Purdue University News Service. "Christmas Shopping Facts and Figures", Press Release, Nov. 22, 2000.</ref> The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of sales) is invariably in the week before Christmas, usually the Saturday before Christmas.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Contents

[edit] Theories of origin

[edit] Stress from large crowds

The earliest uses of "Black Friday" refer to the heavy traffic on that day, an implicit comparison to the extremely stressful and chaotic experience of Black Tuesday (the 1929 stock-market crash) or other black days. The earliest known reference to "Black Friday" (in this sense) is from The New York Times, November 29, 1975, and explicitly refers to the day's busy traffic:

Philadelphia police and bus drivers call it "Black Friday"--that day each year between Thanksgiving Day and the Army-Navy game. It is the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year in the Bicentennial City as the Christmas list is checked off and the Eastern college football season nears conclusion.

Employees of retail stores have for years referred to Black Friday in a satirical way, to note the extremely stressful and hectic nature of the day. Heavy traffic and customer demands added to the long hours make it a difficult day.

[edit] Accounting practice

Most contemporary uses of the term focus instead on the theory that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period where retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year's profits (the black). (Retailers' profitability varies, but some retailers are indeed dependent on the Christmas season for their profits.) This sense has been traced back to a November 26, 1982, broadcast of ABC News's "World News Tonight," although references to the day's heavy traffic and difficult crowds continued to dominate the term's uses for several years afterward. This example from the Charlotte Observer, November 24, 1990, typifies this theory:

"Black Friday" is the nickname for the start of the Christmas shopping season.
That usually means retailers can count on moving their financial footing into the black and out of the red.

This origin is unlikely to be correct, as current research indicates that the heavy traffic origin is well-attested and the black ink theory was not put forward until several years later.

[edit] Black Friday on the Internet

[edit] Advertisements in advance

Certain websites offer information about Black Friday deals up to a month in advance. The text listings of prices are usually accompanied by adscans -- complete PDFs either leaked by insiders, or intentionally released by large retailers to give consumers insight and allow them time to plan.

[edit] Cyber Monday

Main article: Cyber Monday

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, which unofficially marks the beginning of the Christmas online shopping season.

In recent years, Cyber Monday has become a busy day for online retailers, with some sites offering low prices and other promotions on that day.

[edit] Controversy

[edit] Response (Buy Nothing Day)

Anti-consumption activists have chosen this day as Buy Nothing Day in North America, during which those concerned about the increasing power and influence of consumer corporations are urged not to make consumer purchases.

[edit] DMCA

In recent years, some retailers (including Wal-Mart, Target Corporation, Best Buy, and Staples, Inc.) have claimed that the advertisements they send in advance of Black Friday and the prices included in those advertisements are intellectual property and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Using the take down provision of the DMCA, these retailers have threatened various web sites who post Black Friday prices to the internet in advance of the intended release date by the retailers. This policy apparently derives from a fear that competitors, in addition to customers, will also have access to this information and use it for competitive advantage. The actual validity of the claim that prices are protected intellectual property is uncertain as the prices themselves (though not the advertisements) might be considered a "fact" in which case they would not receive the same level of protection as a copyrighted work.

The benefit of threatening internet sites with a DMCA based lawsuit has proved tenuous at best. While some sites have complied with the requests, others have either ignored the threats or simply continued to post the information under the name of a similar sounding fictional retailer.

[edit] References

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[edit] See also

zh:黑色星期五 (购物)

Black Friday (shopping)

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