What is Black Friday?
The term Black Friday has lost its original meaning, coined in 1961 by the city of Philadelphia. Referring to congested auto and pedestrian traffic, clogging streets with shoppers, looking to get the best deals for Christmas gift-giving, eventually the term evolved to when retailers start making a profit off sale merchandise. In the past, accountants noted in their ledgers losses in red ink and profits in black. Hence, the term Black Friday means windfall profits for merchants.
Black Friday is also the symbolic start of the holiday season, and its growing popularity over the last decade has encouraged many companies to offer their workers a day off, making Thanksgiving holiday a four-day weekend.
Retailers concerned about keeping their competitors at bay have taken to opening their stores earlier in the last few years. In addition to Night Owl sales, which begin at midnight, Early Bird sales can begin as early as four a.m. Some retailers begin their Black Friday sales at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the competition. Other stores start their sales on Thanksgiving morning.
A sobering downside exists alongside the thrill of snapping up sales items at steep discounts. Violent incidents caused by stampeding consumers anxious to get sale merchandise have led to assaults, injuries, one recorded employee death, and arrests of people carrying lethal weapons.
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