Black Friday: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; of One of America's Favorite Unofficial Holidays

Nov 27, 2011
by: Anonymous
5th ave apple store by EmmaRoseZu a Youth Voices pool photographer on Flickr

With commercials all over the web and television, everyone has heard the term Black Friday sometime in their life. Most associate it with the Christmas shopping that often occurs the day after Thanksgiving on that Friday and how the result is many stores "going into the black". However, I wanted to delve into the origins and find out just how the unofficial “holiday” started and what it means for people today. So I took not only to the books but also on a little “field trip”.

Although there are various accounts, it appears the term black Friday was first used in mid 20th century Philadelphia (c.1966) by the Police Department to describe the scores of traffic around the city on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It appears then that various stores took to the name and used it in advertising their new hours for what was appearing to be, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. During the 70’s many stores advertised as opening as early as 6am (as compared to the usual 9am opening times). However in the early 90’s, several big brand stores including JC Penny and Macy’s advertised opening times which included 5am. Since that point, the opening times of most other stores have crept backwards in an effort to match the big department stores and 4 am has become the average opening time for most stores. That is, until the last few years.

During the last few years, and much to the disgrace of many people, many stores have decided to open at midnight on Thanksgiving in order to allow more patrons to shop in less crowded environments. Surprisingly, this has become much of a family event and the malls are often most crowded at this time. I myself went this year and found myself not only having fun (I normally abhor shopping) but also in an environment that one person described “like Costco at Christmas!”. That is to say the mall was decorated, crowded, and generally fun to be in.

However, not everyone is excited about the new changes. Many groups have recently petitioned some of the stores against the new hours saying “they’re ruining Thanksgiving for their employees” and “cutting into family time”. One group even went so far as to start a petition against Target’s new policy of opening at midnight for the 2011 Black Friday. That being said, some stores are going to even more extremes, Walmart (which is a 24/7 store anyway) advertised Black Friday sales starting as early as 10:00pm on Thursday. Sears was open Thanksgiving day and even Toys R Us opened at 9 pm.

While many more traditional Americans may not like it, my little jaunt this Black Friday showed me one thing. This tradition isn't going anywhere, no matter who signs what petitions. The malls were colorful, music-filled, and cheerful and even many of the so called “disgruntled” employees didn't seem so disgruntled to me. In fact, the ones I talked to seemed pretty happy to be there. If you ask me, I think black Friday is to retail employees what Valentine’s Day is to restaurants, one of the craziest, busiest, most stressful, AND also most fun days of the year!

For more information on the history of Black Friday, please See:


Dear Emily, I enjoyed your

crystalr's picture
Submitted by crystalr on Mon, 2011-11-28 12:19.

Dear Emily,

I enjoyed your post, though I had a few conflicting opinions towards it. It was a good, well written post, and I like the fact that you added your own experience to the post, making it more interesting.

One sentence that you wrote that caught my attention was: " environment that one person described “like Costco at Christmas!” This sentence stuck out to me because thought the Black Friday shopping experience can be exciting and fun, it can also be pretty scary, unfortunately. Especially in our current economy, a chance to save a significant amount of money on necessary products as well as superfluous items, can turn a fun day, or night, out shopping, into a very bad situation, very fast. There have been fights for products, not only verbal but physical. People have been trampled and beaten after waiting hours in lines for an item, then being set on the item like a pack of wolves on a carcass. Literally. When their are limited amounts of a product and it is in high demand, expect sparks to fly, and I don't mean love. Humans are greedy, selfish, needy. We want it, we have to have it, and they won't get in our way.

Another sentence you wrote that caught my attention was: "Many groups have recently petitioned some of the stores against the new hours saying “they’re ruining Thanksgiving for their employees” and “cutting into family time." I agree with this sentence and it actually saddens me. Most of these people are forced to work on these holidays, and in the slight recession we're still in, yeah, we want and need the money and we'll do what we need to get that money. The unfairness of having these sales and stores opening up so early is crazy though. These people are put out of sleep, relaxing time, and family time. I wouldn't put it pass the employees to be angry, disgruntled, stress, and maybe even end up snapping at customers or not doing a sufficient job.

My father and mother were telling me about their Black Friday experience this weekend. They were in line 6 hours to get in and their were people running and screaming through Walmart as if it were the apocolypse and people NEEDED to get things and rack up right then and there. A stack of 300 Waffle Irons, set at a $2 price were set in front of a line of maybe 500 or more. At 10pm, security screamed Go! and the line ambushed that pile, like animals! Lines going from store entrances, around the block, to the corner, and across the street to get into the Uggs store.? Please. Disgusting -.-;

I enjoyed your post highly, and enjoyed replying to it as well, keep up the good work hun :)

Smiles <3

Black Friday: Destined for Failure From the Start?

Submitted by katiestefanich on Tue, 2011-11-29 09:58.

The end of Thanksgiving always presents Black Friday, the day in which everyone can shop until they drop with pride. Customers did as much as sleeping outside a store for several nights to be able to get in first on Black Friday and snag the best deals. However, these sometimes crazy circumstances leave shoppers feeling on edge, like everyone is working against them. And this is when violence and carelessness prevails.

At a Target in West Virginia, a 61 year old man collapsed and was completely overlooked by shoppers, who ignored or even stepped over him. An ambulance was called and he is recovering, but something like this could have been avoided if people were more caring and had taken care of the man as soon as this occurred.

In California, a woman pepper sprayed a crowd of people at Wal-Mart to get to a crate of Xboxes. The woman eventually turned herself in, but the harm done to the other customers was hardly worth the reward. Injuries from the pepper spray as well as cuts and bruises from the chaos became present shortly after.

Someone was stabbed outside a Macy’s at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, California. The victim was transported to a hospital and is in stable, yet critical condition. The stabbing occurred after some kind of verbal brawl ensued. The suspects have yet to be found.

All of this violence comes from one day out of the year in which everyone sees it fit to follow the phrase, “every man for himself,” as they will do just about anything to get that product that they have been planning on receiving for weeks before.

Black Friday Hysteria

Submitted by CJC on Wed, 2011-11-30 00:39.

In the year 1621 Pilgrims and Native Americans are believed to have established the first Thanksgiving dinner commemorating their arrival in the New World as well as giving thanks to God for what they have. Over time, this day of celebration has evolved and was finally declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. This holiday is distinct to the United States and is one of the most important days in the American calendar.

What perplexes me though is the day that follows Thanksgiving, Black Friday. This day marks the beginning of Christmas shopping and has grown to be so popular because of its allegedly killer deals, literally though. Every year Americans hear stories of confrontations or arguments, but this year shoppers have gone overboard. Throughout the country there were multiple stories of violence ranging from pepper spraying, people being trampled, people being shot, and other atrocities.

What I do not understand is that all of this occurs after the day we are supposed to be thankful for everything we have. This whole scenario just sounds too American, only in America would this occur. However, I attribute this behavior to ignorance. People recognize this holiday as a day of infinite gluttonous eating and have forgotten the meaning and historical foundation behind it.

Society’s principles are declining and I fear we might be seeing more of this behavior. Optimistically, I think there is still hope to save barbarians like the ones on Black Friday.


Submitted by Christopher Fuoco on Thu, 2011-12-01 19:35.

On November 25th, also known as Black Friday, several things happened.

The first being millions of shoppers waited in endless lines to get into their favorite stores for the outrageous deals.

Second, our country spent an estimated 52 billion dollars this year on Black Friday shopping. That is a 6% increase in holiday shoppers between this year and last year.

The most important thing that happened this year is not how many gifts people got, but how. A woman from Southern California reportedly sprayed 10 customers at a Wal-Mart on November 25th, because many people were going for the same video game she was going for. The firefighters treated the people, and the woman turned herself in.

How outrageous is it that so many people in this country and world are marterialistic and do wild things to get something as simple as a video game?

What has this world come to?

Submitted by lifeinthe21 on Thu, 2011-12-15 09:48.

Ah it's Black Friday and you turn on the news and see that 2 people were trampled to death by the mad rush of customers stampeding into best buy to get the newest phone, Modern warfare three or Skyrim.

What has this world come to? People dying over electronics? Christmas is supposed to be about family, traditions, selflessness and giving. Not about running to the mall and finding as many gifts as you can, including your 2nd cousin twice removed.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against presents, I like them just as much as the next person does but it shouldn't be the forefront of everything. I like making presents for my family cause I make it specifically for them.

I enjoy giving them something I worked hard on. This post is not to rag on presents it's just to remind us the real meaning behind the holidays is being with one another and enjoying the time we have together.