What is Black Friday?

While some people’s post-Thanksgiving plans might include a long nap, others’ plans may involve strategizing so they can take advantage of Black Friday deals. That’s because Black Friday is a major shopping event that takes place the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and it typically involves large discounts and sales.

The term “Black Friday” was first used in the late 1950s or early 1960s, but it didn’t take on its current meaning until later. And even with the growing popularity of Cyber Monday and online deals, Black Friday continues to bring some of the largest crowds to stores.

Key takeaways

  • Black Friday has been one of the busiest shopping days of the year for decades and generally includes major sales and discounts in stores and online.
  • Black Friday is held the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. In 2022, it’s Nov. 25.
  • Cyber Monday has also become a popular holiday shopping event, with online deals the Monday after Thanksgiving.

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When is Black Friday?

Black Friday occurs on the fourth Friday of November—or the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. In 2022, Black Friday falls on Nov. 25.

Why is it called Black Friday?

The story goes that Black Friday got its name in Philadelphia in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The term itself was coined by the police who had to work long hours, often in bad weather, as suburbanites flooded the city in preparation for the annual Army-Navy football game held on Saturday.

Higher traffic in the city the day after Thanksgiving meant that local stores saw increased traffic too. Black Friday would eventually become known as the first day of the holiday shopping season, with brands starting to use it as a regular kickoff date to push sales messaging. Realizing they could capitalize on the increased traffic to stores, retailers eventually embraced Black Friday. 

Reluctance to use ‘Black Friday’

Initially, retailers were reluctant to use the phrase “Black Friday,” because of the negative connotations throughout history of the word “black” used with a day of the week. For example, Black Tuesday was when the stock market plummeted in 1929.  

Out of the red

After unsuccessful attempts to market this major shopping event as “Big Friday,” retailers embraced the term Black Friday, observing it as a celebration of the day they got “out of the red and into the black.” This referenced the bookkeeping practice of using red ink for losses and black ink for the profits companies experienced after the huge spike in sales.

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

With the advent of the internet and the increase in online retailers, Cyber Monday has also become a competitor of Black Friday. Cyber Monday is a major online shopping event that occurs the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday includes sales and huge discounts, but they’re exclusively online. Black Friday deals, on the other hand, can be found in stores and online.

Retailers may extend their Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday, or even lower prices to clear out remaining merchandise.

Black Friday in a nutshell

Black Friday continues to draw huge crowds to stores each year. And Cyber Monday has also made major impacts on how Americans shop for the holidays. 

But if you’d rather shop on other days or continue to save, holiday savings don’t have to end on Black Friday. Consider creating a holiday budget, taking advantage of Capital One Shopping, or learning how to earn cash back on every purchase with a Capital One credit card.

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