Black Friday

Mon Dec 2 23:13:15 UTC 2002

        I've been seeing a lot of references to "Black Friday," the Friday after Thanksgiving that marks the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season.  (There are always some newspaper articles that call it the busiest shopping day of the year, though actually there are several other days that are busier.  Usually the Saturday before Christmas is the busiest shopping day of the year.)  I was general counsel at Child World, a then competitor of Toys R Us, before the company's demise in 1992, and I never heard the term there.  I'm more used to "black" days being days when the stock market crashed.

        "Black Friday" apparently refers to the day's heavy traffic.  The term seems to have become quite popular; a Google search for "Black Friday" and Thanksgiving produces 3570 hits.  The earliest use I've seen is from The Record, Northern New Jersey, 12/3/85:  "This is high noon on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the first day of Christmas, the day when Route 46 and Route 23 clot with holiday pilgrims, the day when as many as 3,000 people beach up at Fountains of Wayne to see the animated Santa display."

        For an earlier reference to "Black Friday" as a Friday with heavy traffic, here's the Wall Street Journal, 1/23/84, referring to the 1984 Olympics:  "TRAFFIC:  Stanley Buckmaster has nightmares about "Black Friday."  That is what he and other officials at the California Transportation Department call Aug. 3 - a day when sellout boxing, swimming and track and field competition run almost all day long in the Coliseum - University of Southern California area.  Given Los Angeles's almost fanatical attachment to the private automobile and a shortfall of 16,000 parking places in the area, traffic could be a big problem."

John Baker

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