Happy Black Friday — oh, and the term was meant to insult you

Posted on 27 Nov 2015 at 7:32am
shopping crowds

This looks like fun

Every time you hear, “We open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday,” please know that retailer is saying, “We open at 7 a.m. for the people we hate dealing with the most.”

I finished my Black Friday shopping. We needed milk so I went out in the rain, walked to the grocery store next to my building and I’m home now, soaked.

But where did that insulting term, Black Friday, come from?

I found one online reference to the term dating from 1961 from an article in a suburban Rochester, N.Y. newspaper. Police were describing a traffic jam around a downtown shopping area made worse by a bus drivers’ strike.

I moved to Dallas in 1979 when I was transferred here to manage a store in NorthPark. That’s where I first heard the term used. Store managers whispered the term under their breath. It wasn’t a polite term.

Black Friday, as I always heard it used by retailers in Dallas, referred to bringing out the worst in people.

Black Friday was the day when our regular customers stopped shopping with us for a month and the most obnoxious and rude customers showed up at the mall. The day ushered in a month of horror for anyone working retail, especially those not on commission.

Customers were not only rude, but they destroyed any displays we’d spent hours preparing. And broken items? Torn apparel? Who cares.

Black Friday was also the biggest day of the year for stolen merchandise.

For years, the day after Thanksgiving had been the biggest shopping day of the year. President Franklin Roosevelt even moved Thanksgiving from the fourth to third Thursday of November in 1939 to add a week to the Christmas shopping season.

The term has been used in advertising since about 2000. Here are the only statistics I could find on the day relating to shopper’s behavior:

Since 2006, the most assaults by shoppers on others in stores have been recorded at Walmarts and Best Buys. Overall, in the last decade, at least seven Black Friday shopping-related deaths and 98 shopping-related injuries have been reported.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do lines, crowds or violent shopping situations. At 6:30 this morning at the El Rio Grande Supermercado in the torrential rain, I had none.

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