The Evolution of Black Friday
As the consumer tech retail industry faces down the barrel of the all-important final quarter of 2018, most analysts’ eyes—and perhaps most retailers’ eyes as well—are trained on one particular weekend positioned towards the end of November. Black Friday weekend, which runs this year from Thanksgiving Day (November 22) through Cyber Monday (November 26), has long been the focal point of the retail calendar. It’s this stretch of four or five days that can literally make or break a business’s annual budget. The term Black Friday itself signifies just how important a time this is for retail—black signifying retailers’ move from accounting losses, or “the red,” to profits, or “the black.”
The Black Friday holiday shopping event has served as the official start to the holiday shopping season since at least the 1960s, at least in name. But nothing about the long weekend looks anything like it did more than a half century ago. Whereas the name would lead one to believe it’s all about that one day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday today is generally used to refer to the whole week-long event.
But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg with how Black Friday has evolved over the years. Take, for example, the advent of online shopping. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that retailers in the 1960s probably didn’t have anyone on staff who managed social media accounts to help promote their sales or ecommerce staff who were tasked with creating a seamless online/in-store shopping experience. Today, retailers would be foolish not to employ at least several someones with those skills.