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The biggest sales promotion is back this weekend as Black Friday is set cause major drama at our local shopping centres as payday approaches. But what does this mean for the South African consumers?

WTF is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the fourth Thursday in November, following Thanksgiving, in the United States and the Friday before Cyber Monday. Since 1932, the day was the official start of the Christmas shopping season as most retailers adjusted their trading hours to accompany the Festive Season trading.

Throughout US history, there have been many versions as to how it got its name, but we’ll look at three most popular origin stories:

The financial crisis of 1869

The first ever recording of ‘Black Friday’ in US history, on September 24, 1869, two of Wall Street’s most ferocious financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up most of the US gold stocks to sell them off at ridiculous prices once they drove the stock price high. Not only did this plan failed, but the US markets plummeted and bankrupted every person from Wall Street to farmers in Texas.

Going from red to black

A common tale amongst retailer staff, this makes the most sense. Staffers claimed that after a near year of operating at a loss in sales (being in the red), the day before Thanksgiving, many would go into a state of panic when customers would rush out to shop for last-minute Thanksgiving purchases, exceeding sales trajectories (went into the black) right after Thanksgiving.

Abide by the law in Philly

In the 1950s, the US city of Philadelphia would have hordes of visitors shopping and touring the city ahead of a major football game. The police of Philly would have to work overtime to ensure the safety of the streets of Philly dealing with crimes such as petty theft to DUIs and the shoplifters that caused major headaches for the law enforcers. This was later dubbed ‘Black Friday’. Although the term was hated by many, this eventually spread throughout the US by the 1960s. By the late 1980s, the term was commercialised to give the day a more positive outlook for the retailers and its customers.

Since the modern era, Black Friday has been promoted as a four-day event starting on Black Friday and ending on Cyber Monday. Meaning that for the regular consumer such as myself, there are four days of bargain shopping that we just cannot ignore.

But there have been reports of violence during the Black Friday weekend, some have led to arrests and deaths.