The story behind Black Friday

The story behind Black Friday

Today, Black Friday is synonymous with getting the best bargains - whether it’s online or bracing the crowds in stores. However, do you know why it’s called Black Friday, and where this whole shopping bonanza originates?

Working our way backwards from present day, something which most of you will already know is that this is a very American event which has made its way across the Atlantic to us. Traditionally, Black Friday follows Thanksgiving, which is always on the last Thursday of every month. This is very much akin to our Boxing Day, where the sales start the day after Christmas. The great thing about this shopping date though, is that you get to take advantage of all the bargains for your Christmas shopping, before Christmas! (Thanks for that, to our US friends!)

Prior to this though, the term ‘Black Friday’ itself originates from the financial crash that kickstarted the Great Depression (again, in America), in 1929, which saw stocks in the financial markets take a nosedive, putting people out of work and into crippling debt (neatly marking the end of the “roaring twenties”).

Around the early 1950s, the term started to become synonymous with the shopping bonanza we now know today. This stuck because - where times haven’t changed much since then - the calamities and accidents that occurred during the rush for bargain-hunting was appropriate for the “black” description. With the negative connotations of the term, one PR expert tried to coin “Big Friday” instead, but this didn’t catch on.

A few decades later, in the 1980s, the term became much more widespread, with most Americans now familiar with “Black Friday”. Before the economy picked up again, retailers would find themselves operating at a loss for most of the year, with the high sales during the holiday season propping up the rest of their financial year. This is where another theory for the term “Black Friday” originates; an accounting term relating to losses on the balance sheet in red ink, and then profits in black. We’re not sure about this one - sounds pretty weak but ok!

So how did it make its way over here, and how did it gain popularity in the UK?

Well, America does lead the way in capitalism and consumerism - let’s face it! We’ve adopted their retail methods for centuries now, so it was inevitable the same would happen with Black Friday too. A big catalyst for this, though, was large, American-owned retailers in the UK operating this “trickle-down effect”. For example, Asda is owned by the American conglomerate, walmart, and so thanks to this corporate structure, Black Friday was introduced and even pushed here in the UK a few years, with 2014 as the pivotal date for this really penetrating the marketplace. 

In recent years, the concept has grown and grown - but does it show any signs of slowing down?

With so much more of a focus on sustainability today (and rightly so) there is a big push to avoid Black Friday altogether by some brands, and actually Scandinavia have their own anti-Black Friday idea which is getting traction; White Monday. The movement from Sweden encourages people to live a more circular lifestyle, to reuse and recycle more, instead of buying new all the time. More info here:

What do you think? Will you be in the bargain basement with the rest of the shoppers today? Or are you embracing the #WhiteMonday concept instead? Let us know!


Whisper cares about sustainability. All our bedding is made from pure, longstaple cotton, made by BCI manufacturers in Europe, with no plastic packaging ever used. We are offering an exclusive 15% off for Black Friday as our once-a-year sale. As our bedding is extremely high-quality, we know this is an investment that will last you for a long time. Shop online before the sale ends at midnight on Monday, 2nd December. 

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