The official start of the Christmas season is here and no matter what Ralphie tells you it isn’t the display in the store window. Oh sure, that display is up, but the real start of the Christmas season was on Friday, November 28, also known as Black Friday. Black Friday is traditionally the day when retailers go from being in the red, a debt or loss, to being in the black, turning a profit. The origin of the name however, comes from right here in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia police and bus drivers referred to the day as Black Friday due to traffic and the sheer volume of pedestrians that clogged the streets during this time. The accounting origin of the name did not become popular until the 1980’s when it became better known.
The shopping day of Black Friday marks the holiday rush that always precedes Christmas and generates massive amounts of revenue for retailers. Some will make all of their profits during this time.Others will generate the best numbers that they see all year.
This year had the potential to offer poor sales, due to the state of the economy.However, 2008 had a stronger turnout, more spending, and more people doing all of their shopping this year than any other.This year there were a total of 172.9 million shoppers in stores according to the National Retail Foundation. This beat 2007’s former record of 147.3 million shoppers by a sizeable margin. The average amount of money spent also increased to $372.57 this year from last years $347.55.The amount of people who completed all of their shopping on Black Friday also increased from 8.2% to a whopping 10.6%. Most customers were found to buy lost cost items like CD’s, video games, DVD’s, and clothing. Sales numbers for those shopping online during Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, were reported as being lower than expected for the online components of brick and mortar stores, while online only venues reported an increase in traffic.
The news was not all good however.In the weeks preceding Black Friday sales dropped sharply on most items, and the sale of electronics and luxury items plummeted 19 percent in the days leading up to the sales according to SpendingPulse. Others are frightened that the shorter shopping season, only 27 days, will cause a drop in last minute shoppers. Students at Bloomsburg University listed several reasons for not shopping on Black Friday that included crowds, the economy, and indecision on what to buy this year. Those that did shop said they found great deals at stores such as Old Navy, New York & Co., and Best Buy.
One Best Buy employee who wishes to be unnamed was quoted as saying, “This year went really well. The line only wrapped around the store once, and the line to test computers only went to the front door. We didn’t need to call any ambulances or police, although we did have some minor disputes.”