The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Black Friday: A day-turned-season of deals

Every year the day after Thanksgiving, Americans rush to shop what they think are the greatest deals.
Wikimedia Commons
Every year the day after Thanksgiving, Americans rush to shop what they think are the greatest deals.

The stores are crowded with shoppers looking high and low at increasingly empty shelves. Carts full of electronics and clothes whiz past you as you try your best to make your way to checkout. It’s not the end of the world; it’s just Black Friday. 

With all the annual talk about the best sales in town, gift exchanges and family get-togethers, you may be wondering: What started the whole Black Friday tradition to begin with?

Currently, Black Friday is about retailers staying in the black versus the red when it comes to profits, USA Today reported on Nov. 24 — appopriately enough, this year’s Black Friday. However, the origins of the term have an interesting, complex history.

As reported by Michelle Shen in the USA Today article, the term Black Friday stems from an 1869 scheme involving gold right after the Civil War.  Two men by the names of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk got lucky while searching for gold and hoarded as much of it as they could. This, according to, earned them about $60 million and caused the price of gold to skyrocket.

Following then-President Ulysses S. Grant’s decision to introduce a bunch of the precious metal into the economy, “Gould and Fisk’s scheme failed miserably, and the drop in the price of gold hit many Wall Street financiers, causing them to lose millions. The day came to be known as ‘Black Friday,’” Shen reported.

Later, the term Black Friday gained popularity in Philadelphia in the 1950s because of an Army-Navy football game that caused police to have to deal with big crowds, according to

Shen’s USA Today artice also states that retailers now are referring to November as Black November, reflecting the fact that Black Friday is no longer just a day in America; it is a season. 

In 2023, Black Friday looks a lot different than it did a few years ago. What was once a single day of the year for mass amounts of shopping has evolved into a period of time that lasts days, sometimes even weeks leading up to the holidays. 

The growing popularity of online shopping sites and apps, such as Amazon, plus websites for traditional brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, Target, and various other companies  also  have drastically changed the culture of Black Friday. Americans can now buy all their gifts online and have them shipped to their homes, or pick them up at curbside at their favorite stores.  

For many, this added level of convenience alleviates some of the hassle and stress of the tradition. And this is only taken further as deals start rolling out earlier, year after year.

“I love early Black Friday deals if it means not having to go in the store on Black Friday,” said Kelsie Hughes, a first-year student at Guilford majoring in cyber and network security. 

Although Hughes appreciates the options provided by early online shopping, she’s noticed some decrease in chaos when she does decide to go the in-person route. “It’s not really like how they portray it in movies or TV shows, ” she said. “My past shopping experiences haven’t been bad, because generally people know what they are looking for when shopping.” 

Mia Hoffman, a Guilford Honors Program student, is an avid shopper and Black Friday fan, but is wary of priorities for the holidays. 

“In the past, I used to go out on Thanksgiving after we ate dinner to go shopping,”  said Hoffman, a senior studying biology and health science.  “It would be very busy, but it was always a fun time. The lines to checkout would be ridiculous.

“Black Friday can take away from Thanksgiving. They are too close together, and I think people need to prioritize time with their friends and family over shopping,” she said. 

As Hoffman said, a fixation with Black Friday shopping has the potential to distract millions of people from the gratitude many consider  central to the holidays. With social media’s ever-increasing prevalence, it’s nearly impossible for the average American to avoid ads and thinking about shopping this time of year. We can only hope that the gratefulness Thanksgiving brings will not become further overshadowed by this growing consumerism. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *