Black Friday

views updated May 09 2018

Black Friday

Black Friday is the term used for the day after Thanks-giving in the United States. This day is often considered the start of the holiday shopping season and is often marked by major sales, loss leaders, and early opening hours at retailers.


The practice of referring to especially difficult days with the word “Black” stems from early financial panics, dating as far back as 1869. According to several sources, the term Black Friday was first used to refer to the day after Thanksgiving in 1975, because of horrendous traffic and badly behaved shoppers. The name Black Friday stuck, and over time it has become accepted that the name refers to the accounting practice of recording profits in black ink and losses in red ink. In other words, Black Friday is the day that retailers get out of the red and into the black. Statistically, Black Friday is not actually the day with the highest sales of the year. It is important, however, as a predictor or indicator of consumer attitudes for the season at hand.


The holiday shopping season is the most important one for most retailers, but the season's duration has increased in recent years. According to retail tracking organizations, most malls were decorated for Christmas by November 1 during 2006. Retail managers begin the holiday season preparation long before the decorations go up; planning for staffing and advertising is usually completed by October. Training for holiday staff can then take place in November, before the rush hits. On average, most retailers extend their hours for the season beginning on the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday. These extended hours generally last through Christmas Eve.


Some recent developments in holiday retailing have changed the status of Black Friday and the time frame connected to the holiday season as a whole. First, the immense popularity of prepaid giftcards changes preconceived ideas about the parameters of the holiday buying season. The season has traditionally begun after Thanksgiving and ended on Christmas Eve. Because of the cards, however, holiday sales continue to be made in January, when recipients of the giftcards redeem them. This, coupled with the tendency to start the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier each year, has led to an ever-expanding holiday season.

The widespread popularity of online shopping is the second development that has affected the status of Black Friday and the entire holiday shopping season. According to a survey conducted by a leading consulting agency, chief marketing officers consider the first Monday after Thanksgiving, called Cyber Monday because of online shopping, as important as Black Friday.

Despite changes in the holiday retailing landscape, Black Friday traffic has increased slightly in recent years. While overall sales vary based on economic factors, in most years Black Friday ranks about fifth for total sales, with the Saturday before Christmas dependably being the number one sales day of the year.


“‘Black Friday’ & ‘Cyber Monday’ Play Crucial Roles in Holiday Shopping Season According to BDO Seidman, LLP Survey of CMOs.” BusinessWire, 12 November 2007. Available from:

“Black Friday Weekend Traffic Up 4.8 Percent as Consumers Shop for Smaller Ticket Items” National Research Federation, 25 November 2007. Available from:

International Council of Shopping Centers. Holiday Watch: Economic Perspective: 2007. Available from:

International Council of Shopping Centers. Holiday Watch Media Guide: 2006 Facts and Figures. Available from:

“US Retailers Cautious as Black Friday Approaches” Research Recap. Available from:

Vargas, Melody. “Haul Out the Holly.” Retail Industry. Available from:

Black Friday

views updated Jun 08 2018


BLACK FRIDAY (24 September 1869) was the climactic day of an effort by the financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk Jr., with the help of President Ulysses S. Grant's brother-in-law Abel Rathbone Corbin and one or two associates, to corner the ready gold supply of the United States. Because the nation was then on a paper money basis, gold was dealt in as a speculative commodity on the New York exchange. On 2 September Gould began buying gold on a large scale; on 15 September, Fisk also began buying heavily and soon forced the price from $135 to $140. The movement excited much suspicion and fear, and the New York Tribune argued that the Treasury had the "plain and imperative" duty to sell gold and break up the conspiracy. Secretary of the Treasury George S. Boutwell visited New York but decided not to act. Meanwhile, Grant had gone to Washington, Pennsylvania, and was out of touch until he returned to Washington, D.C., on 22 September. On 23 September, with gold at $144, the New York panic grew serious.

On 24 September, as the price rose to $160, Secretary Boutwell urged the sale of $3 million of the federal government's gold reserve. Grant suggested $5 million, and Boutwell telegraphed an order to sell $4 million. Gould, perhaps forewarned by the head of the New York sub-treasury, had already begun selling, and gold sank rapidly to $135. Fisk immediately found means to repudiate his contracts. The episode ruined scores of investors, caused heavy indirect losses to business, and placed an ugly smirch on the Grant administration. Gould and Fisk made an $11 million profit.


Ackerman, Kenneth D. The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1988.

Boutwell, George S. Reminiscences of Sixty Years in Public Affairs. New York: McClure, Phillips and Co., 1902.

Brands, H. W. Masters of Enterprise: Giants of American Business from John Jacob Astor and J. P. Morgan to Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. New York: Free Press, 1999.

McFeely, William S. Grant: A Biography. Newtown, Conn.: American Political Biography Press, 1996. The original edition was published in 1981.

AllanNevins/c. p.

See alsoGold Exchange ; Political Scandals ; Treasury, Department of the .

Black Friday

views updated May 11 2018

Black Friday

Black Friday is the nickname given to September 24, 1869. On that day, thousands of American investors lost their fortunes.

During the American Civil War (1861–65), the government attempted to keep the economy steady by issuing a large sum of money backed by nothing but credit. The American public understood that the plan after the war was to have the government buy back the “greenbacks,” as they were called, with gold. The greenbacks that the government would buy back would be replaced with currency backed by gold.

Two men—stockbroker James Fisk (1834–1872) and financier Jay Gould (1836–1892)—did not want the government to rid itself of the gold. They hoped to buy up as much gold as possible and hold onto it while its value rose. When they could sell it at a profit, they would. The government's plan would ruin their scheme because it would put more gold on the market, which would force the value down.

Gould was smart enough to know he could not convince President Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885; served 1869–77) to do what he wanted on his own, so he and Fisk befriended financier Abel Rathbone Corbin (1808–1881), Grant's brother-in-law. Together, the three men approached the president, who gave no clear response to their proposal. Gould and Fisk were encouraged that the president even took the time to speak with them, so they kept at their plan. Corbin knew the assistant treasurer of the United States, Daniel Butterfield (1831–1901), who agreed to let Fisk and Gould know when the government was ready to sell gold.

All seemed to be going according to plan, but Grant became suspicious of his brother-in-law's unusual interest in the gold market. He happened upon a letter written by his sister to his wife, and in the letter was an explanation of Gould's scheme. Grant, furious that he had been conned by family, contacted Corbin and ordered him to stop the plan. He then ordered the sale of $4 million in government gold.

Gould and Fisk began buying as much gold as they could on September 20, 1869. They watched gleefully as the value soared. On September 24, the price of an ounce of gold peaked at $162.50. But when the $4 million worth of government gold hit the market, people panicked at the prospect of their own gold losing value, and they attempted to sell their gold while the price remained high. Within fifteen minutes the price of gold dropped to $133 per ounce. Investors could not get rid of their gold fast enough, and many men lost their fortunes in what became known as Black Friday. Railway stocks lost nearly all their value, and businesses across the nation were left paralyzed.

Black Friday

views updated Jun 08 2018

Black Friday ★★½ 1940

Karloff is a surgeon who saves the life of his college professor friend (Ridges) by transplanting part of the brain of a gangster (involved in the same car crash) into the man's body. This results in a Jekyll/Hyde complex with the gangster's evil portion taking over and seeking revenge on rival mobster Lugosi. Horror stars Karloff and Lugosi never have any scenes together. 70m/B VHS, DVD . Boris Karloff, Stanley Ridges, Bela Lugosi, Anne Nagel, Anne Gwynne, Paul Fix, Virginia Brissac, James Craig; D: Arthur Lubin; W: Curt Siodmak, Eric Taylor; C: Elwood “Woody” Bredell.

Black Friday

views updated May 17 2018

Black Friday (September 24, 1869) Day of financial panic in the USA. Financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk attempted to corner the gold market and drove the price of gold up. The price fell after the US government sold part of its gold reserve, and many speculators were ruined.