The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is often referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year, but where did this tradition start and just how big is it? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Black Friday. Hopefully they’ll give you some good talking points as you line up outside Best Buy at 4 a.m. on Friday.
How did Black Friday became such a big shopping day?
It’s hard to say when the day after Thanksgiving turned into a retail behemoth, but it probably dates back to the late 19th century. At that time, store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades were common, and once Santa Claus showed up at the end of the parade, the holiday shopping season had officially started.
In those days, most retailers adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn’t start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. Thus, when the floodgates opened that Friday, it became a huge deal.
So retailers were always hoping for an early Thanksgiving?You bet. They weren’t just hoping, though; they were being proactive about it. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn’t begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank.
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