Why Do Merchants Call It Black Friday? The Christmas shopping season is off to a modestly successful start. "Black Friday" is what retailers call the day after Thanksgiving. Where did that somewhat ominous term come from?
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Why Do Merchants Call It Black Friday?

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Why Do Merchants Call It Black Friday?

Why Do Merchants Call It Black Friday?

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

The Christmas shopping season kicked off Friday when bargain hunters queued up very early in the morning in hopes of buying exactly the right gifts for their loved ones. But early indications are that sales were not overwhelming. Shoppers seemed worried about the economy.

Now, if you've been tuned in at all during the last few days, you've probably heard the phrase Black Friday, the term used to describe Friday shopping rush. And you undoubtedly know by now that it's called Black Friday because stores hope that it will jump start their accounts out of the red. You may be wondering - I know we are - where did the term come from?

We asked our crack librarian Kee Malesky to check it out. Here's what she found. The first reference, she found, to calling the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday was in a New York Times article in 1975. But retailers weren't calling it Black Friday, Philadelphia police and bus drivers were because it was the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy Football Game, which was played then in Philadelphia on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So in addition to all the shoppers in the streets, there are tens of thousands of football revelers to contend with.

The next reference came eight years later. It was the first time anyone, in this case some store employees, called it Black Friday for the reasons people do so today, the day to start moving into the black.

Outside the retail industry, few people use the term until just a few years ago, in fact, common usage is really not much older than Cyber Monday. If you haven't heard that one yet, it refers to tomorrow, when people go online to do their Christmas shopping by computer, at least that's what the online retailers hope.

And here's the kicker. Black Friday isn't even the busiest shopping day of the year. That day will come closer to December 25th, Christmas.

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