Black Friday is only a week away, but is the day after Thanksgiving an actual holiday?
No, despite Black Friday having its own well-known moniker it is not a federal holiday. People may treat the day as a retail holiday when they can cash in on deals ahead of the Christmas season, but it isn’t one the government recognizes.
On federal holidays such as Thanksgiving, banks and the United Postal Service will cease operations. Since Black Friday is not a federal holiday, both services will be open.
One of the only sectors of the country that takes Black Friday off are schools and colleges, who throw in the day with Thanksgiving break, giving students a four-day weekend.
How did Black Friday get its name and where does it come from? Here’s what we know:
Why is it called Black Friday?
The common story associated with Black Friday is that it relates to retailer’s financial loss and gain, but that might not be the full story.
Commonly, Black Friday is referred to when stores operating at a loss (“in the red”) would turn a profit (“went into the black”) the day after Thanksgiving, as shoppers spend heavily on discounted goods, according to Britannica.
However, in recent years another Black Friday mythos has come to the surface.
The other tale refers to a time back in the early 1960s when Philadelphia police officers used the phrase “Black Friday” to describe the chaos that ensued from suburban visitors coming to the city for holiday shopping.
The huge crowds that swarmed the city created headaches for the Philadelphia police who were compelled to work longer shifts to deal with traffic accidents and shoplifting scofflaws. Within a few years, the phrase “Black Friday” had taken root in the local lexicon despite retailers trying to positively twist the name by referring to it as “Big Friday”.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s, when merchants started to spread the red-to-black story for Black Friday, according to Britannica. Ever since then, the moniker has been associated with retail shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
Is Black Friday really the biggest shopping day of the year?
Yes, Black Friday is by far the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S.
Over 130 million people are planning to shop on Black Friday, up 69% from 2022, according to the National Retail Federation. The second most popular day for shopping is Cyber Monday, where 71 million are planning to take advantage of deals.
In total, an estimated 182 million people are planning on shopping both in-store and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
“The Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks some of the busiest shopping days of the year, as consumers enjoy the tradition of shopping for the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones,” said Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation President and CEO. “Retailers have been preparing for months for this occasion.”