The History of Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Tech Critic

The History of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Thanksgiving Week is One of the Busiest Shopping Periods of the Year

The History of Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Tech CriticNovember typically means that the holiday season is well underway. In just a few weeks, most Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving, enjoying delicious food, and spending the day with their loved ones. Christmas is the next big holiday once Thanksgiving is over. However, some important days occur right after Thanksgiving and well before Christmas. With each year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to grow in popularity, offering consumers discounted prices on retail items.

While many people try to do their Christmas shopping before the holiday season, most people tend to wait until the last minute. That is why many retailers have joined in on the hype surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retailers provide customers with drastically discounted prices to encourage them to buy from them.

These days aren’t as young as you would think. We are going to take a look into the history of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday to understand their significance to retailers and consumers.

Black Friday 

For millions of Americans, Black Friday is officially the start of the Christmas shopping season. The Friday after Thanksgiving is always Black Friday. This day is one of the largest and busiest shopping days on the calendar every year. 61% of shoppers on Thanksgiving week stated that they will shop on Black Friday in 2019. In 2018 alone, more than 165 million people shopped that weekend, spending as much as $313.29 per person.

With all this success, many of you may be wondering how Black Friday came to be.


The very first reported use of the term Black Friday did not occur during the holiday season nor for holiday shopping. Instead, it was applied to the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two successful Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, partnered together to purchase as much gold in the United States as possible. They hoped that this would cause the price of gold to skyrocket, enabling them to make an enormous profit. However, the opposite happened.

On that Friday, their conspiracy was unveiled, leading the stock-market to collapse and bankrupting countless individuals. The Black Friday that most consumers are aware of didn’t come to be until decades later.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Philadelphia police used the term to describe the chaos they encountered on city streets the day after Thanksgiving, consisting of congested traffic and hordes of shoppers. These cops didn’t get the day off and often had to work long hours, so they never looked forward to this day. The term Black Friday eventually started to catch on with consumers and retailers.

The “black” in the name references the profit of retailers. A commonly repeated story around this shopping day stated that retailers would spend the entire year in the “red,” meaning they were losing money. However, on Black Friday, because of discounted prices and increased business, they would move into the “black,” meaning they would make a profit. Businesses used to record their losses in red and profits in black when accounting was still done by hand.

While shopping has largely moved online, this day still marks the start of the holiday shopping season, accumulating billions of dollars in profit.


As Black Friday has grown in popularity, retailers have begun extending their hours to Thanksgiving evening. This shopping holiday amassing billions of dollars in revenue for retailers from millions of shoppers.

  • Customers completed 8 million online transactions on Black Friday 2018, and 13.7 million were made on Thanksgiving Day
  • Businesses made $9.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday, which consisted of Thanksgiving Day and that Friday. $6.2 billion were spent on that Friday
  • Each shopper spent an average of $313.29 during Thanksgiving weekend
  • Amazon was the most popular retailer on Black Friday, taking 56.8% of the transaction in 2018
  • 89 million people shopped online and in stores in 2018

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday has a much more recent history than Black Friday. While Cyber Monday does occur on Thanksgiving weekend, it doesn’t happen in stores. It occurs entirely online. Cyber Monday is a fantastic counterpoint to the physical nature of shopping that Black Friday offers consumers. However, it does stand on its own and has its own history.


As we mentioned, Cyber Monday doesn’t have the storied history that Black Friday does. It has only been around since 2005. For several years, the National Retail Federation (NRF) recognized a recurring increase in online sales and traffic on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Many of those in the NRF believed people were making purchases while at work because the internet was much faster, and they could hide the gifts easier.

In a press release in 2005, the NRF officially declared the Monday following Thanksgiving as Cyber Monday. The release noted that 77% of online retailers saw their sales drastically increase on that Monday the year prior. After the release, online retailers saw a 26% increase in sales. Cyber Monday has continued to grow in popularity since the NRF established it.

As time has passed, the line between Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday has begun to blur. Their sales have begun to coincide with one another. However, Cyber Monday has become the largest online shopping day of the year.


  • Cyber Monday saw a 28% increase in online sales, reaching the $6 billion mark
  • According to ComScore, e-commerce spending this Monday has risen from $484 million in 2005 to $6 billion in 2018
  • 50% of shoppers plan on shopping on Cyber Monday
  • 60% of online transactions occurred on Amazon, totaling more than 9.5 million purchases
  • Cyber Monday beat Black Friday in digital spending by nearly $1.2 billion

The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are countless deals for you to take advantage of. Businesses strategically use carefully planned marketing campaigns to make the most of this shopping season. If you are a retailer and are interested in seeing the most success this holiday season, contact Tech Critic and let us help.

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