The day after Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 23 this year, is marked by one of the most significant retail events of the year: Black Friday.

In 2023, retailers and brands, including Nordstrom, Amazon, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Everlane, Skims and more, started Black Friday discounts weeks in advance.

According to a report released by Coveo, a Quebec-based SaaS search engine powered by artificial intelligence, earlier in November, 58 percent of retailers are focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday/Cyber Week to drive revenues in the fourth quarter. 

Black Friday’s impact 

Over the years, retailers have needed to find ways to stand out in the sea of deals. In 2022, RetailNext Inc., a retail intelligence firm tracking traffic at brick-and-mortar stores, said store traffic rose 2.5 percent for Black Friday through Sunday over 2021. According to The NPD Group, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales came in 5 percent lower in 2022 than the same week in 2021, while unit sales fell 8 percent. 

Why is it called Black Friday?

A day associated with bargain hunting and frantic shopping, Black Friday became a well-established tradition in the U.St. in the late ’80s. However, its origins trace back to long before that. 

To some, Black Friday symbolized the moment when retailers, traditionally operating “in the red” (indicating losses), finally moved “in the black” (signifying profits) thanks to all of the sales happening after Thanksgiving. 

In the ’50s, managers reportedly used “Black Friday” to describe the day many workers would call in sick after Thanksgiving, making a comparison with the bubonic plague. In the early ’60s, police officers in Philadelphia started using the term to depict the chaos created by the large numbers of tourists who came into the city for both holiday shopping and to attend Saturday’s annual Army-Navy football game, causing the police officers to work longer shifts.

When did Black Friday become popular?

By the end of the ’70s, newspapers in Philadelphia had adopted “Black Friday” to describe the start of holiday shopping. In the ’80s, companies fully embraced the term to promote product deals and sales. Over the years, Black Friday has grown as retailers intensify efforts to attract shoppers. The adoption of online shopping further fueled Black Friday’s popularity, enabling consumers to partake in the frenzy from the comfort of their homes.

Is Black Friday a holiday?

Black Friday is not a federal or official bank holiday.

While federal holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving prompt retailers to close or shorten hours, Black Friday often has retailers opening early or operating with extended hours.

Who has the best Black Friday deals?

Certain retail giants consistently stand out for offering attractive discounts and promotions during this annual shopping extravaganza.

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Amazon’s Black Friday ad in London.

In Pictures via Getty Images

  • Amazon: The e-commerce giant is known for its extensive range of deals across diverse product categories. 
  • Walmart: Renowned for doorbuster deals and competitive pricing, Walmart attracts many shoppers seeking discounts on electronics, toys and household essentials.
  • Best Buy: A haven for tech enthusiasts, Best Buy traditionally offers substantial discounts on gadgets, appliances and accessories, drawing crowds seeking the latest tech at a bargain.
  • Target: Combining a diverse product range with enticing discounts, Target is a popular choice for Black Friday shoppers looking for deals on electronics, children’s products, clothing and home goods.
  • Apple: While Apple may not be synonymous with deep discounts, the company often provides gift cards or promotional bundles with purchases made during Black Friday sales.
  • Nordstrom: Nordstrom offers a great selection of clearance-level steals.
  • Sephora: Sephora brings rare deals on viral beauty products and bestsellers. 

The landscape of Black Friday deals can change each year, and savvy consumers may find valuable promotions from various retailers across different sectors.

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