But is that all there is to it? Far from it: Check out these odd Black Friday facts you probably haven't heard — and may not even believe.
1. The 1st 'Black Friday' wasn't about shopping
Way back in 1869, when the term was first used in the U.S., “Black Friday” referred to a dark day when gold prices crashed.
Two conniving investors had tried to corner the gold market by buying up enough of the precious metal to create a scarcity. As gold prices climbed, other investors bought up as much as they could in hopes of making a killing.
To end the frenzy, the government stepped in and flooded the market with gold. Prices plunged, speculators were bankrupted, and the stock market swooned.
2. Black Friday is the busiest day for plumbers
Retailers aren't the only ones expecting business to spike on Black Friday. Plumbers can be 50% busier than normal, according to the company Roto-Rooter.
On Thanksgiving and the day after, people try to dispose of a shocking amount of leftovers down the kitchen sink.
It turns out that a pile of turkey parts, river of grease and heap of uneaten vegetables can’t all go down the pipe together. Somebody call the plumber.
3. Black Friday shoppers will buy literally nothing
One year, the creators of the popular party game Cards Against Humanity decided they wanted to get in on the Black Friday shopping madness.
So, they advertised you could pay $5 for nothing on Black Friday. All items normally for sale on the game's website were removed and replaced with a single payment form that people could use to just give the company $5 and receive nothing in return.
Shockingly, more than 11,000 customers went for it, and the company raked in $71,145. Although Cards Against Humanity had a history of donating to charity, that year the company chose to distribute its windfall to employees as a holiday bonus.
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4. Thanksgiving was rescheduled for Black Friday
It was Abraham Lincoln who first proclaimed that there would be a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November.
Cut to 1939, when the last Thursday happened to be the very last day of the month. Retailers were concerned that holiday shopping might be limited, because Thanksgiving was so late.
So they asked then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt to make Thanksgiving the second-to-last Thursday instead. Roosevelt agreed, and Black Friday was saved. Congress made Thanksgiving's new timing permanent in 1941.
5. A website tracks Black Friday casualties
Anyone who has dared to venture out on a Black Friday shopping spree knows that it’s not for the faint of heart. In fact, sometimes people get hurt.
A website called Black Friday Death Count has been keeping track of Black Friday-related injuries and, yes, fatalities since 2006.
In 2021, highlights included a shooting at a Tacoma Mall food court and an attempted theft at Kennewick Walmart. A similar site offers the "Cyber Monday Death Count." (No, there haven't been any.)
6. It's one of the best days to buy a used car
If you don't have a car to take you Black Friday deal-hunting, the day may just be the perfect time to buy one.
iSeeCars.com conducted a study to determine the days when you find the best deals on used cars.
It turns out late and early year holidays are prime times for low prices. Thanksgiving and Black Friday rank at No. 6, with 2.7% more deals than average.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is No. 1.
7. Black Friday brings shoppers from overseas
Black Friday exists in other countries, which may seem odd given its connection to American Thanksgiving.
But the U.S. shopping holiday became so world-famous that people began coming from overseas to "celebrate" it. Some travel companies even arranged trips to bring customers to the U.S. to partake in the deals.
Seeing the international interest in blowing a ton of cash in late November, businesses abroad have begun offering sales of their own. You can now find Black Friday deals everywhere from the U.K. to mainland Europe and across Asia.
8. A gift certificate drop went horribly wrong
According to media reports, a mall in Torrance, California, had a fun idea for distributing gift certificates back in 2006. Rather than handing the prizes out by hand, managers decided to drop them from the mall's ceiling.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for them to realize the inherent flaws in dropping 500 gift certificates into a crowd of 2,000 deal-hungry shoppers on Black Friday.
The second the certificates began to fall, customers went into a frenzy, diving and fighting each other to get at the prizes. This fun idea resulted in several injuries and a hospitalization.
9. Car accidents spike on Black Friday
Sadly, the Black Friday hysteria inside stores often extends to the parking lot.
The auto insurance company Progressive looked at its accident claims in 2015 and found that crashes rise around Thanksgiving and are 34% higher on Black Friday compared to other days in November.
Many of these accidents take place in the parking lot and involve backing-out and parking attempts gone wrong. Progressive advises Black Friday shoppers to park as far from stores as possible and avoid other drivers who seem to be in a mad rush to shop.
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