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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday…What Do All These Shopping Days Mean?

by Madelyn McConnell

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and the rather, unfortunately, named Brown Thursday – what do all these shopping days mean? Where did these days come from and why? Well, gather round friends as we tell you the colorful, weird history of how these days became mainstream.

Black Friday

According to, Black Friday started in 1951 when having the day after Thanksgiving off was not the norm. In order to get a four-day weekend, workers called in sick and it became loosely referred to as Black Friday.
Anybody had Friday-After-Thanksgiving-itis?

Black Friday as a term began to gather steam in in the early 1960’s when the Philadelphia police started referring to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because of all the pedestrians and traffic issues. What contributed to that problem was the annual Army-Navy football game that was played the same weekend. Philly cops used Black Friday as a disdainful term because all officers had to work, usually longer shifts.

Some people assume that the retail community coined the term to mean when stores would get back “into the black” or began making a profit. Articles on Black Friday think that the term was made popular by retail employees. As a former retail employee can tell you, that day meant longer work days that started earlier, no vacation time, and a constant cacophony of sound until January. It was indeed a dark, dark Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday

In an effort to help small businesses during the economic downturn of 2008, a rather large company started a special promotion. American Express began their shop small campaign on November 27, 2010. According to them a:

“Small Business can exist in a variety of forms, from corner
stores to food trucks to online boutiques. They can have a
handful of employees or be up to 150 employees strong.
They give the neighborhood strength and create vibrant,
diverse communities.”

It’s not surprising that the once campaign slogan has grown into a national movement. Many people love supporting their local businesses, not just for one day but all year long. American Express should be proud!

Cyber Monday

Originated in 2005 by the marketing gurus at, the Monday following Thanksgiving was given this memorable moniker to compete with conventional shopping. It was noticed early on that the week after Black Friday was heavier in online shopping. If you remember internet connections in 2005, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that people waited until they got back to work to do their online shopping. According to this article on MSN, Cyber Monday did more $3 billion – that’s billion with a B! Weirdly, this isn’t the largest online shopping day in the world, that goes to Single’s Day in China!

Giving Tuesday

Born in 2012, Giving Tuesday is meant to be the lead-in for the end of the year and holiday charitable season. Needs are great during the holidays, Christmas brings more heart to love thy fellow man, and many people make donations prior to the end of the year for tax purposes. Whatever the motive, this movement has grown to $117 million dollars in online donations in 2015. Many non-profits report donations of toys, clothing, and food and hopefully this day will continue to grow. Do you want to participate? You can go to or read this article by USA Today.

Brown Thursday?

After scouring the internet for information on this “holiday” there is no one person or company that takes credit for coining this term. The urban dictionary has an entry for it and late-night comedians have made fun of it but what is it? It’s shopping on Thanksgiving. Some retailers open on Thursday evening to gather momentum for Black Friday shopping, and people do take advantage of that time. Maybe it’s a break from family all day. Or you’re not tired because you napped after lunch? Some people go to the movies on holidays – maybe this is an alternative?

Whatever you celebrate, make sure it’s with friends and family and filled with love!

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