The day after Thanksgiving has long been seen as the first (and biggest) shopping day of the holiday season but this wasn’t always the case.
First, let’s do away with the biggest myth about Black Friday. You may think this sales event is called Black Friday because it marks the day that businesses are finally ‘in the black’ or turning a profit. But that is not true (and if you are not turning a profit until the last 5 weeks you are probably in bigger trouble than can be solved by Black Friday). The phrase was actually coined in Philadelphia during the 1960s. The Philadelphia police started to call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday" because pedestrians and their vehicles were causing massive traffic jams downtown as they began their holiday shopping. The chaos was exacerbated because students were out of school and Santa Claus had claimed his chair for the season. The name stuck.
Despite the mania Philadelphia was seeing, Black Friday was was not the biggest shopping day of the season, yet. The last Saturday before Christmas was. That changed about twenty years ago. Big box stores decided to start the shopping season with really big deals, promoted those deals with marketing dollars (i.e. commercials and leaflets) and the consumers ate it up in hopes that one big shopping day would solve all their holiday shopping problems. Stock up now and relax until Christmas.
Eventually, this led to the stores opening earlier and earlier: 6AM, 5AM, 4AM. A couple of years ago some stores opened at midnight and now we have stores that open on the evening of Thanksgiving. Everyone is doing what they can to get those early shoppers and make their holiday sales goals. As the trend became pervasive (and crept into Thanksgiving) and riots in shopping malls and at big box stores were publicized, the “biggest shopping day of the year” began to see some major backlash.
Many consumers have voiced that they don’t want to go out late on Thanksgiving and don’t want to have to see loved ones pulled from holiday activities because they have to go to work. Some have called for a boycott of Black Friday and the backlash has had an effect.