The Genesis of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are unique in its annual events. Each year millions of excited consumers gather online and at department stores, seeking some of the best sales of the year.  You’ve likely watched videos of mobs of crowds running into a Wal-Mart to score an amazing deal on a Playstation or X-Box. How did these days become known for sales?  Especially when they’re so close to Thanksgiving :) 

While Black Friday has a long history in the United States, Cyber Monday arrived on the scene many years later. In 2012, with the blessing of online retailers, marketers took Black Friday and gave it a digital spin. No longer did people have to fight the chaos and crowds - they could now do their holiday shopping from the comfort of their homes.

The Beginning of Black Friday

The most common explanation, and the one you’ve likely heard, stems from retailers. As the story goes, retailers after a year of so-so sales, they took this as an opportunity, offering steep discounts with the hopes of drawing in customers who would spend large sums of money.  Traditionally, in corporate accounting, positive numbers are black in color while negative numbers are red.  Black Friday is synonymous with retailers being “back in the black”, or making a positive profit.  

The term also has it roots in Pennsylvania.  Beginning in the 1950’s Philadelphia was one of the first cities to promote Black Friday sales.  Each year the huge Army-Navy game would take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and retailers in the city noticed a huge spike in sales from the influx of game watchers.  

Since then, Black Friday has marked the unofficial beginning of the financial holiday season.  Retailers continue to support Black Friday, offering better and better sales each year. The popularity of Black Friday also inspired the creation of a series of other retail holidays, like Small Business Saturday.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the digital version of Black Friday.  Born from a new breed of online sellers to counter the increasingly popular Black Friday. Every Monday following Thanksgiving, tremendous deals take over the web.  The first attempts at Cyber Monday didn’t draw the attraction online retailers had hoped, but with the ongoing transition from physical shopping to digital, Cyber Monday has evolved into an online phenomenon. Shoppers can avoid both crowds and waking up at an unsavory hour, and still complete their holiday shopping, all from their bed while sipping a fresh cup of coffee.

While Black Friday has roots in American history, its digital companion Cyber Monday is still a relatively new player in the retail game. What these traditions evolve into next is anyone's guess.