Black Friday is widely known as the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, but it hasnâ??t always been that way.
The term â??Black Fridayâ?? was first used in the United States in reference to a stock market crash on September 24
, 1869. Gold speculators had attempted to corner the market on the New York Stock Exchange, and the government responded by flooding the market with gold. Prices plummeted, taking
many small fortunes down with them.
Then in 1934, Thanksgiving happened to fall on the very last day of November, and retailers, worried about the effect of an abbreviated shopping season on their sales, petitioned then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving itself a week earlier. He acquiesced, to the great annoyance of much of the American public.
In the 1960s, police in Philadelphia started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as â??Black Fridayâ?? because of all the traffic and subsequent smog created by holiday shoppers. The term wasnâ??t used widely across the U.S. until the 1990s.
And since 2001, Black Friday has retained its title as the busiest American shopping day, according to the National Retail Federation.
But the tradition can sometimes cause more harm than good to small businesses, which frequently take a back seat to larger retailers, who can afford to offer steeper discounts on a much larger inventory.
â??With the big box stores, they do so much advertising; small businesses cannot compete with that, but we offer a lot of other services,â??said Judy Click, owner of Judyâ??s Cart Cottage in Amarillo. â??We usually pick up later in the afternoon, and then Saturday and Sunday weâ??ll be busy.â??
The political climate can also affect business. When President Obama was re-elected last year, there was a spike in gun sales across the nation. Skyler Davis has worked at Damronâ??s Pawn for the last three years, and he says heâ??s seen a steady influx of customers.
â??Last year, Black Friday was really busy,â?? said Davis. â??Of course, we had all the big gun purchasing going on, so you couldnâ??t really keep firearms on the shelf. This year, we have plenty of inventory, so Iâ??ve got guns here, and thatâ??s what most people are coming by to see.â??
But no matter whether you see the holiday as practical economics or unabashed consumerism, for many people, itâ??s all about the experience.
â??A lot of times people are out; they love the bargains, and they also like the hunt,â?? said Click. â??For a lot of people, itâ??s just getting out in the middle of all the chaos. So maybe people are out buying, but theyâ??re also out looking, and in here, they come in and theyâ??re shopping.â??