Black Friday, or the day following Thanksgiving each year, kicks off the Christmas shopping season and enables hordes of Americans an opportunity to wake up at the crack of dawn and take advantage of the very best in sales.
The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”.
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (except in states where opening on Thanksgiving is prohibited due to blue laws, such as Massachusetts where they still opened around midnight),prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. Black Friday shopping is known for attracting aggressive crowds, with annual reports of assaults, shootings, and throngs of people trampling on other shoppers in an attempt to get the best deal on a product before supplies run out.