Once known for its frenzied in-store deals and doorbuster sales, Black Friday has evolved into a month-long online shopping event. Here’s a look at the history of Black Friday and how technology reshaped the infamous shopping holiday.
The Chaotic Origins of Black Friday
Black Friday has its roots in the 1950s and 60s as a busy shopping day in Philadelphia after Thanksgiving. The crowds and traffic were so disruptive that police officers dubbed it “Black Friday” out of frustration. Retailers tried to rebrand it as “Big Friday,” but the negative name stuck.
Black Friday became legendary nationwide for long lines and aggressive crowds trying to get the best doorbuster deals. News stories and video clips from the 80s and 90s show shoppers literally trampling each other and getting into fights over discounted TVs and toys. A website called Black Friday Death Count even tracked injuries and deaths related to the shopping chaos.
The Rise of Cyber Monday and Online Shopping
As the internet grew in popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s, a new shopping trend emerged with Cyber Monday. Online retailers offered special deals the Monday after Thanksgiving to attract people back to work after the long weekend.
Over the years, retailers started stretching Black Friday deals earlier and earlier, eventually leading up to Cyber Week sales. The convenience of online shopping became more appealing than battling crowds for doorbusters. In-store sales on Black Friday dropped while online revenue skyrocketed.
Black Friday 2022 Sees Record $9.12 Billion in Online Sales
The 2022 holiday shopping season was the biggest ever for e-commerce. Online sales hit $9.12 billion on Black Friday alone, up from $8.92 billion in 2021 according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday also broke the single-day spending record with $11.3 billion in sales.
Overall, the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday drove a total of $35.27 billion in online spending. More and more consumers are opting to shop from home rather than visiting stores.
The Rise of Livestream Shopping
With shopping increasingly happening online, retailers are embracing livestream shopping to recreate the interactive, engaging experience of in-store browsing.
Influencers and brand representatives host live videos demonstrating products, answering questions, and offering limited promo codes and flash giveaways. It’s like a Home Shopping Network tailored for the TikTok generation.
Amazon and major Chinese e-commerce companies are investing heavily in livestream shopping. For younger consumers used to connecting via the internet, it provides a sense of community and friendship missing from traditional online shopping.
What’s Next for Holiday Shopping?
While Black Friday still drives major sales, its days as a frenzied, deal-hunting holiday appear to be over. Cyber Week and online events like livestream shopping meet the demand for convenience and value.
For savvy shoppers, the rise of e-commerce provides more opportunities to find deals from the comfort of home. But it also contributes to the decline of malls and physical retail stores that once served as community hubs.
The future of holiday shopping will be defined by technology finding new ways to recreate the thrill of the hunt — without the chaos and violence of the Black Friday stampedes of the past.