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Black Friday

November 18, 2012

In the retailing world, the Friday after US Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. In 2012, US Thanksgiving falls on November 22 and thus Black Friday is the day after, i.e., Friday November 23. Traditionally it is the biggest shopping day of the year, and the official start of the Christmas shopping season. It is also around this time that Santa Claus Parades tend to be held. For instance, the 2012 Santa Claus parade was held in Toronto on November 17 this year. Meanwhile the Macy’s parade is held on US Thanksgiving Day in New York City. This year it will be on Thursday November 22.

The following photo shows Santa at this year’s Toronto Santa Claus Parade. For more photos of the parade see:

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According to the Wikipedia article on Black Friday at

“The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975.”

Some people are predicting the death of Black Friday (e.g., as stores start opening their sales earlier and earlier. While some are complaining about shops beginning to open late on Thanksgiving evening in the US, shoppers are voting with their feet and pocketbooks to get as early a start on the Christmas shopping as possible. Within a few years it may be possible that stores being open on Thanksgiving Day will be the norm.

Black Friday in 2011 set online sales records and it will be interesting to see if they are broken again this year. Statistics on Black Friday in 2011 are provided by Comscore: (

Here are some interesting excerpts from that press release.

“Black Friday (November 25) saw $816 million in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011 and representing a 26-percent increase versus Black Friday 2010. Thanksgiving Day (November 24), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18-percent increase to $479 million.”


Some analysts had expected that online sales might have been negatively affected by earlier openings of bricks and mortar stores, but this did not appear to be the case. Our prediction is that online sales will again be strong on Black Friday this year.

The Comscore report also highlighted the top 5 most visited online retailers. While Amazon had 50% more visitors than the next online retailer it is interesting to see the presence of three bricks and mortar retailers within the top five online retailers showing the ability of some retailers to pursue a strategy of retailing both on-line and in-store.


As the Comscore report took it “it is telling that the top multi-channel retailers also showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the online channel to the retail industry as a whole.”

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