What's so black about Black Friday?

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an American phenomenon that has slowly started appearing in other countries and refers to the day after Thanksgiving. In the US, Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November. On Black Friday, stores offer enormous discounts and sales – and it’s usually the busiest shopping day of the whole year.

“Sale” is an important word to understand when talking about Black Friday. On its own, it refers to a period of time when an item is cheaper to buy than it usually would be. This item is “on sale,” or, in British English you'll also commonly hear “on offer.” Saying something that is “for sale,” however, just means that you can buy it. This is also the way that an American would understand the expression “on offer."

So where does the name come from?

Many people say that the name Black Friday describes the fact that businesses try to go “into the black” on this day, with stores trying to get lots of people to come in for highly attractive sales. Historically, accountants would write in red ink when a company was losing money, and in black ink when it was making money. A company hoping to go “into the black” is one that is trying to make enough money to make up for everything they’ve spent and start making a profit.

Although this is commonly given as the reason for the name "Black Friday," that’s not where the term originally comes from. The name actually dates back further to the 1960s.

Even before large sales were associated with the Friday after Thanksgiving, it was always a popular day for shopping in the US. With most businesses closed and many people staying home from work, it presented the perfect opportunity to start the search for Christmas gift, and so the Friday after Thanksgiving became the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Policemen in Philadelphia started calling this Friday “Black Friday” as a result of the increased pollution and traffic from eager shoppers. Over the years, the term caught on nationwide, and now has spread across the world.

Recent Black Fridays and Cyber Monday

Recently, Black Friday has become increasingly popular, and as stores get more and more competitive to attract buyers and cause excitement, they offer better and better deals and open their doors earlier and earlier. In the US some stores open as early as midnight after Thanksgiving, or even 8pm on Thanksgiving Day! In order to let store employees enjoy their Thanksgiving, some stores have refused to open this early, and in some states it is actually illegal.

To prevent having to make employees work on a federal holiday, some brands will offer online-only deals on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving. This eliminates having to deal with the enormous crowds usually associated with Black Friday, and also is a helpful way for smaller brands to compete with large stores who can afford to give large in-store deals on Black Friday. Cyber Monday is particularly popular for fashion purchases, whereas Black Friday is commonly associated with large electronics such as televisions or video games.

Black Friday at Kaplan

Are you hoping to celebrate Black Friday yourself without dealing with the traffic and crowds that originally gave the day its name? Kaplan is currently running its own Black Friday deal in the week leading up to 2015’s Black Friday, which takes place on November 27. (This promotion is now over)

Kaplan Black Friday sale

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