Black Friday is a day that has become synonymous with price drops, deals and discounts, as retailers persuade us to part with our hard-earned cash.

Taking place the day immediately after Thanksgiving Day in America (the fourth Thursday of November), many of us are unaware of the history behind Black Friday, so let's discover how it developed into a global shopping phenomenon.

What is Black Friday?

As with many, many global cultural events, Black Friday began in the United States of America. The day after Thanksgiving (which is always held on the fourth Thursday in November), shops would cash in on those enjoying a 4 day weekend by opening early and offering items at reduced prices. Since the 1960s, Black Friday has become an annual tradition and typically marks the beginning of the festive shopping period.

However, Black Friday remained a uniquely American day, that was until internet shopping started to become more widespread at the start of the 21st century. Several large retailers with American origins started to brand their pre-Christmas sale as “Black Friday”. The idea quickly spread across the pond and beyond to become the shopping frenzy it is today.

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday 2019 is on Friday 29th November 2019.

If you like to plan your shopping way in advance, here are the future Black Friday dates:

  • Black Friday 2020 is on Friday 27th November 2020
  • Black Friday 2021 is on Friday 26th November 2021
  • Black Friday 2022 is on Friday 25th November 2022
  • Black Friday 2023 is on Friday 24th November 2023
  • Black Friday 2024 is on Friday 29th November 2024

Where does Black Friday come from?

Shrouded in the mysteries of time, no one is 100% sure how Black Friday got its name. One theory is that it was nicknamed thus by police officers in Philadelphia, who reported that the shopping day was quite difficult due to the high volume of shoppers, smog and traffic pollution.

Another common thought is that it was called Black Friday due to the large number of sales staff who would call in sick on the day, with the prospect of a 4 day weekend simply proving too tempting.

A third and final theory states that the name was made up by retailers, as it was the day that many would finally turn a profit for the year, transforming their figures from red to black.

Black Friday in numbers

Black Friday may have started its life in America, but it is evidently clear that the renowned shopping day has travelled over to the UK and started a new life here.

Reports confirm that Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day in the United Kingdom every year since 2005, and data from the past few years would indicate that the popularity of this day is set to continue.

In 2014, shoppers spent £810m*, which works out at a rate of £9,375 every second, and was the biggest weekend of online shopping in many countries throughout the world. This was a huge 37.5%** higher than Black Friday in 2013.

But, if you thought that was big, Black Friday 2015 broke the £1bn mark in the UK for the first time! In fact, an incredible £1.1bn*** was spent, which was an increase of 35% year on year. Our guess is that people are trying to avoid the mad scramble for discounted items in the shops by shopping online.

The spending didn't stop there. According to the BBC, Black Friday sales rose by 12% in 2016, with an estimated total of £1.23bn being spent online†. Spending rose again in 2017, with £1.39bn being spent, 9% ahead of the forecasted revenue‡, according to IMRG.

How much was spent on Black Friday 2018?

Early indications suggested that Black Friday spending in the UK in 2018 was actually lower than the previous year, for the first time since this day came to prominence. Many sources are citing savvier customers, lower spending and fewer retailers offering Black Friday deals as the reasons behind this.

To find out more about how people shopped on Black Friday we created a survey. Here are the results:

Black Friday infographic


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