Black Friday's Philly Roots

Ever wonder why Black Friday is called "Black Friday?"

The reason may surprise you and the fact that the term was coined in Philadelphia may surprise you even more.

Black Friday as we know it today, is the day after Thanksgiving and the day that most retailers "go into the black" -- meaning they start to turn a profit for the year. The phrase "go into the black" refers to a time when accounting records were kept by hand using red ink for a loss and black ink for a profit, according to

But that explanation is NOT the origin of "Black Friday."

Black Friday actually became a "thing" in Philadelphia in the early 1960s when police in the city used the term to describe the day after Thanksgiving rush -- a day of horrific traffic conditions, thanks mostly to downtown shoppers, according an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer

On Black Friday, officers were forced to work 12-hour shifts. Most of their time was spent directing traffic at busy center city intersections and parking garages.

Retailers, who were looking to encourage shoppers to come out on that Friday despite the terrible traffic, tried (and failed) to have the day called "Big Friday."

Guess that's a moot point now, since "Black Friday" is a day that deal-seekers look forward to all year long.

Contact Us