Black Friday 2010 Might Not Be So “Black”


They should really think about renaming Black Friday, the now infamous day of shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  In a down economy, the term “Black Friday” might sound like a day where no one shops.  After all, Black Monday is the term for October 19, 1987–the date the stock market tanked.  Fortunately, this year looks like Black Friday may be healthy after all, signaling that the economy might be on the right track. 

First though, where did Black Friday get its name? The origins of the term “Black Friday,” via Wikipedia:

Black Friday as a term has been used in multiple contexts, going back to the nineteenth century, where it was associated with a financial crisis in 1869. The earliest known reference to “Black Friday” in this sense was made by Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society, in a 1966 publication on the day’s significance in Philadelphia:

JANUARY 1966 — “Black Friday” is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.

Actually, in terms of finance, “Black” is a positive term–as being “in the black” means turning a profit and “in the red” means going broke.  By that logic, the eighties stock market crash should have been called Red Monday. 

In any case, the term is here to stay, and fortunately this year may be a good one for struggling merchants.  According to a Bloomberg report retail sales peaked in October, signaling a potentially profitable holiday shopping season:

Sales at U.S. retailers climbed in October by the most in seven months, brightening the outlook for holiday shopping even as unemployment holds near 10 percent.

Purchases rose 1.2 percent, exceeding the highest forecast among economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, according to data from the Commerce Department issued today in Washington. Another report showed manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly shrank in November as orders dropped.

Stock gains over the past two months and growing employment are helping households repair finances, indicating consumer spending will play a bigger role in the recovery.

One of the biggest factors is this little nugget: “Merchants from J.C. Penney Co to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are offering promotions to guard against any letdown in the last two months of the year, typically the biggest shopping season and hiring time for retailers.” 

So what’s happening is there is more consumer activity because people are able to buy more stuff for less.

OK, this has to lead to a little plug: These discounts are why exists and we’re well aware that stores are offering increased discounts because they’re desperate for consumer dollars. So it’s not necessarily that people are spending more all in one place–they’re spending at more places, especially those places that offer discounts.

Though merchants might be taking a loss on a 20% off code, this is money that they might not being seeing at all were it not for the discount. If this type of spending is spread out over many stores (as opposed to, say, spending everything at Walmart) this will no doubt boost the economy this holiday season.

Not to knock the ubiquitous discount department store or anything because they’re a big part of the turnaround–and Walmart is offering free shipping with no minimum purchase. The more stores do this, the more spending there will be.  Remember if you’re getting free shipping online AND a percentage off discount, you’re might find that online shopping offers increased money saving than if you bought in-store–without having to deal with traffic.  So check out our Black Friday deals for this year’s best selection.

How about you–are you shopping online or in-store this season?

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