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Origin of Black Friday

sale - AMS FulfillmentBlack Friday is a big day in the retail world – and a favorite of the in-person shoppers looking for that long-awaited ‘deal’. Cyber Monday is a big day for ecommerce retailers and a favorite of online ‘deal’ shoppers! At AMS we’ve been preparing for these shopping events for a good long time, and now they’re here and we’re busy!! As we pause for a breath, we’re wondering… where did these “days” come from? Whose idea was it to offer steep price reductions for the day, or the weekend after Thanksgiving?

After doing some searching, we found out that Philadelphia was where the idea first started. Here’s the story according to

“The real history behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only were Philly cops not able to take the day off, but they had to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters also took advantage of the bedlam in stores and made off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

“By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit.” 

We could reflect on why the color black had negative connotations since Black is all colors combined, and quite an important color indeed. But leaving that thought, as said in the quote, being “in the black” in accounting is definitely a positive, one that every retailer, in-store and online aims for. The article continues…

“The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal.”

We hope that this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday/Sunday, Shop for Good Sunday, and Cyber Monday are everything that the retailers have hoped for. As a fulfillment company, AMS is hugely involved in these high sales days. We serve B2B, B2C, ecommerce, omnichannel and we’re hard at work serving our clients during this season and appreciating it! We’ll be hard at work from now on through the coming season of giving, making sure the gifts arrive on time and in perfect condition.

Earlier we talked about Shop for Good Sunday [LINK] so now let’s take a quick look at where Cyber Monday came from. Who came up with that idea? We found some good information at Reader’s Digest. Apparently last year Americans spent more than $9 Billion on Cyber Monday, and this year the expectation is for even greater sales. Here’s the story:

“Thank Ellen Davis, senior vice president of research and strategic initiatives for the National Retail Federation, who coined the term in 2005. For several years in a row, the NRF had noticed a recurring spike in online revenue and traffic on the Monday following Thanksgiving. They believed it was because people were making purchases from their computers at work, where the Internet connections were faster and their kids couldn’t get a sneak peek at their gifts.

“The group issued a press release a few days before Thanksgiving, 2005, where they debuted the term “Cyber Monday.” According to the press release, 77 percent of online retailers had seen their sales “increase substantially” on Cyber Monday the previous year and by NRF calculations could expect the trend to continue.”

A good idea is a good idea!! All four of these ‘super shopping’ days give the people reduced prices, making a lot of Christmas dreams come true that otherwise might not have been possible. They also give the retailers a boost with their accounting in the black. And finally, the fulfillment companies get a challenge they are happy and prepared to meet.

With more than 20 years in the business, AMS knows how to give both the shoppers and the AMS clients a very successful holiday season. Have fun shopping this weekend and be sure to visit the Shop for Good website on Sunday and enjoy all of the wonderful gifts sold by B Corporations!

Yes, AMS Fulfillment is a B Corporation, and that fact is an extra plus for our clients, employees, community and the environment.



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