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What is Black Friday? ESE’s quick guide with everything you need to know!

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What is Black Friday? ESE’s quick guide with everything you need to know!

Today’s the day, it’s finally here! The day that thousands upon thousands of hungry shoppers have been eagerly awaiting…



But what exactly is Black Friday?

‘Black Friday’ originates from America and is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season in the US and dates back to the 1950s.

To kick start the shopping season and encourage shoppers to start their Christmas shopping early, many retailers began offering special offers on this day and so ‘Black Friday’ was born. However this day was not referred to as ‘Black Friday’ until several decades later, in the 1980s.


Why is it called ‘Black Friday?

The origins of the name or term ‘Black Friday’ are unclear. In English when we describe a day or an event as ‘Black’ this normally has negative connotations inferring something bad or upsetting has happened. This description would seem to match up with one theory that the term originates from Philadelphia and was first used back in the 1960’s. The term was thought to describe the negative effects of the day. These included heavy traffic and congestion in towns and cities along with violence and ugly scenes as shoppers fought over items for sale.

However the term Black Friday entered popular use in the 1980’s and was used by retailers to describe the positive effects on their sales, taking many businesses out of ‘the red’ and ‘into the black’.

Whatever the true origins of the term are it has become synonymous in modern popular culture with sales and shopping. It is now the biggest shopping day of the year in America and in many countries around the world.


What Happens?

Many shops and stores open as early as 6am and stay open long into the evening. They offer special deals and slashed prices for one day only. Items are heavily discounted tempting scores of shoppers to ‘shop ’til they drop’ in order to snap up as many bargains as possible. Shoppers can be found queuing outside stores waiting for them to open, with some bargain hunters even camping out the night before in order to be the first one through the doors at opening time.

In past years there were often scenes of violence and chaos as shoppers battled between each other for the items on sale. Shops were swamped with hundreds of people eager to get their hands on the latest gadgets and gizmos for a fraction of their normal price.

With the introduction of the internet many shoppers now to choose to shop on-line instead. In the past this resulted in websites crashing due to the heavy numbers of traffic trying to access them.


Cyber Monday

As on-line shopping has become more popular retailers noticed that many shoppers were choosing to shop on-line for bargains on the Monday after Black Friday. This was thought to be due to the fact that many shoppers were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2005 the term ‘Cyber Monday’ was coined by the National Retail Federation and as the name suggests, extends the special offers of Black Friday on-line.

Today Black Friday deals and special offers typically stretch over the 4 day weekend period with retailers offering tempting sales both in-store and on-line.


Around The World

Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for retailers in America and generates billions of dollars in sales.

Although the event originates from the US, as with many American events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now spread to many other countries in the world. Black Friday sales can be found all over Europe and the western world. The event is also becoming popular in other parts of the world including Asia and Africa. This is largely thanks to the internet with on-line sales perhaps being the most successful both in America and abroad.

Focus on Fluency
    • kick start (v) – literal meaning is to kick the pedal of a motor engine in order to start it. Here it is used to describe getting an event or activity started.
    • in the red (phrase) – to have spent more money than one has in their bank account so the total is a negative amount meaning one owes money to the bank.
    • in the black (phrase) – to be in credit, to be profitable.
    • scores (n) – a group or set of about twenty people. Scores plural indicates large groups of people.
    • shop ’til you drop (idiom) –to shop until one is physically tired and are unable to walk around the shops anymore
    • snap up (phrasal verb) – to buy something quickly or enthusiastically usually because it is cheap or something really desired by the buyer
    • bargain hunter (n) – someone who is searching for goods that are cheap and good value for money
    • gizmos (n) – slang for a gadget, used particularly when the speaker cannot remember or does not know the name of the item. ‘Gadgets’ refer to mechanical or electrical devices that are very clever, or novel.
    • coined (v) – to invent a new word or phrase

About the Author

Samantha Dixon
Samantha Dixon
Marketing Executive at ESE

Samantha is British and has taught English as a foreign language in several different countries including Thailand and Finland. She has been with ESE since March 2016 and is now working as part of the Marketing team as a Marketing Executive. Samantha enjoys being creative, painting and writing when time allows. She also enjoys spending time with her 4 year old son and her new baby daughter, soaking up the Maltese sun.