December 10, 2019

The Black Friday Takeover

“Igot my first email containing the words “Black Friday” in April. “Black Friday was a bit of a disaster for us (unsure why we expected otherwise) and we said we’d make it up to you in the near future,” wrote the cult beauty brand Deciem, whose 2018 Black Friday sale entirely sold out before Thanksgiving Day was even over. The apologetic notice was being sent to customers in promotion of … another sale.

I love a good deal just like anybody else, but the words “Black Friday” have become increasingly meaningless. Today is Nov. 20 — still over a week out from this year’s later-than-usual Black Friday — and I’m inundated with emails announcing sales. Fabletics, a popular subscription activewear retailer, has emailed me every day since Nov. 13 to promote their “Black Friday Month” savings.

And it’s not just my inbox that is out of control. At some point Black Friday morphed into Gray November, and now it’s bleeding into the rest of the year as well.

Since even before the invention of malls, shoppers have flocked to stores in the days immediately following Thanksgiving to cash in on big holiday savings. While there are a lot of misconceptions out there about the so-called holiday’s name, the phrase “Black Friday” derives neither from retailers getting “into the black,” nor has anything to do with slavery. Rather, it was originally a derogatory reference to the smog and exhaust that filled the streets of Philadelphia in the 1950s when people would pour into town to get a headstart on their shopping. The name stuck, even if the date wouldn’t.”

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