Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and marks the start of the holiday shopping season. It is one of the year’s biggest days, offering great discounts and deals on various products. A frenzy of sales, savings, and buying extravaganzas describes the event best.

The day after Thanksgiving has been the beginning of the United States’ Christmas shopping season since 1952. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the term “Black Friday” became widely recognized and used by retailers and consumers alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Black Friday is recognized as a prominent retail holiday in the United States that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. It signals the onset of the Christmas shopping season and is one of the year’s biggest days.
  • Stores open early (and sometimes remain open for 24 hours straight) to entice shoppers with exceptional product deals.
  • Popular stores like Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Hulu, and others have various offers, with some sales extending into Cyber Monday.
  • Black Friday helps to boost sales, acquire new customers, clear excess inventory, increase brand awareness, and gather valuable customer data for retailers.
  • Finding the best discounts requires planning, comparing prices, checking ads and deal sites, and subscribing to newsletters from favorite retailers.
  • The event usually lasts over the weekend following Thanksgiving, with some deals extending into Cyber Monday and beyond.
  • The holiday traditionally focuses on in-store discounts, while Cyber Monday, coined in 2005, was created with online buying in mind.

Attention: These examples are based on past promotions run by the retailers. Check each retailer’s website or promotional materials for the most accurate and up-to-date deal information.

Retailer NameBest Black Friday Sale Details
AmazonDiscounts on electronics, books, and clothing.
Best BuyDiscounts on electronics, appliances, and more.
Home DepotSpecial deals on home improvement items.
HuluReduced subscription prices for streaming services.
Kohl’sDiscounts across all categories, including clothing, home goods, and electronics.
Lowe’sDiscounted home improvement supplies and equipment.
LululemonSavings on high-quality activewear and fitness accessories.
NintendoDeals on games, consoles, and gaming accessories.
TargetSpecial deals on electronics, home goods, toys, and more.
WalmartSavings across all departments, including electronics, toys, and household items.
Macy’sDoorbuster deals on fashion items, beauty products, and home goods. They often offer free items after mail-in rebates too.
ApplePrice drops on select items and Apple gift cards with certain purchases.
GameStopDeals on consoles, video games, accessories, and pop culture collectibles. 
CostcoDeals and significant discounts on electronics, appliances, jewelry, and more.
SephoraDeals on makeup, skincare, haircare, and fragrances from popular brands.
NordstromDiscounts on high-quality fashion items, designer clothing, luxury handbags, shoes, and beauty products.

What Is Black Friday Shopping?

Black Friday is characterized by various discounts and deals retailers offer to draw in customers to kick-start holiday spending. Established as a shopping tradition in the late 20th century, it has expanded beyond physical stores to include online retailers, with many extending their sales throughout the weekend and into Cyber Monday.


Tip: The schedule is a much-anticipated highlight of the November retail calendar. It features significant deals and sales across various stores and platforms.

Strategic shopping on Black Friday can transform chaotic bargain hunting into a cost-effective and efficient experience. Customers enjoy significant savings, such as “buy one, get one free,” and similar offers.

When Is Black Friday?

It is traditionally observed on the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. This places it on November 29 in the year 2024. Generally, it falls between the 23rd and 29th of November. Retailers tend to offer promotional sales throughout the entire month leading up to Black Friday.

The specific timing for sales begins in early November and can extend into the following week. Notable retailers like Kohl’s, Walmart, and Best Buy have been known to have certain schedules. For example:

  • Kohl’s: their sale events typically kick off in mid-November and include exclusive offers, particularly on the days immediately before the event. Physical stores are known to open at 5 a.m. on the big day.
  • Walmart: Walmart schedules multiple deal events, beginning as early as the first week of November. They also tend to offer early access to specific deals for Walmart+ subscribers.
  • Best Buy: Best Buy usually opens its promotions in late October, with sales extending for about a week, culminating on Black Friday.

Tip: Many retailers often extend their sales to the following Saturday and Sunday. Some even start their deals as early as Thanksgiving Day itself.

History of Black Friday


The term was initially associated with a financial crisis – the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold. They hoped to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. 

However, on that Friday in September, the conspiracy unraveled. It sent the stock market into free fall and bankrupted everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.


The term’s more contemporary, shopping-related definition reportedly stems from Philadelphia in the second half of the 20th century. At the time, police used it to describe the heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic the day after Thanksgiving. Hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists would flood the city for the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year.

Police had to deal with the additional crowds, traffic, and rampant shoplifting. Retailers tried to change the name to “Big Friday,” but it didn’t stick.

Modern Times

Black Friday has since lost its negative connotations and has been redefined by retailers. Traditionally, ledgers were kept in black ink when revenues were positive and in red ink to indicate losses. 


Note: The event signifies the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, going from being “in the red” to being “in the black” – a reference to the colors of ink used by businesses to record losses and gains.

What Makes Black Friday Important?

Black Friday is a time when shoppers can snag deals on everything, from clothing to electronics, appliances, toys, and more. The occasion is crucial for brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce for reasons such as:

  • Sales boost: the holiday is known for massive discounts and promotions, leading to a significant surge in sales.
  • Customer acquisition: the excitement around the holiday attracts new customers who may not have shopped with a particular retailer before.
  • Inventory clearance: Black Friday helps e-commerce retailers to clear out excess inventory by offering discounts.
  • Brand awareness: retailers can create attention and buzz for their brand through marketing campaigns and advertising.
  • Customer loyalty: retailers can strengthen their relationships with existing customers by offering great promotions.
  • Competitive edge: many shoppers compare deals from different retailers, giving stores with the best offers a clear advantage over their competitors.
  • Global reach: the shopping holiday is not just limited to the United States; it has become a global phenomenon.
  • Data collection: Black Friday events allow retailers to collect valuable customer data about shopping habits. This data is useful for optimizing marketing campaigns and coming up with relevant offers in the future.
  • Market and product testing: retailers can use Black Friday deals to test the market’s response to new products or pricing strategies.

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Black Friday can be an overwhelming experience for both seasoned shoppers and novices alike. Here’s some advice for a stress-free, productive shopping experience:

  • Research and plan: look at ads and offers well in advance. Know what you want to buy, where it will be on sale, and when the sale starts.
  • Subscribe to newsletters: get your latest information straight from the source. Subscribe to the newsletters of retailers that interest you to stay ahead of the game and find out about the upcoming Black Friday discounts.
  • Compare prices: with so many retailers offering discounts, it’s best to compare prices among different stores to ensure you get the best deal.
  • Set a budget: getting carried away with many deals is easy. Make a budget and stick to it to avoid overspending.
  • Shop online: to avoid crowds and save time, consider buying online. Many retailers offer the same promotions online as they do in stores.
  • Verify seller credentials: purchase from reputable retailers or verify third-party sellers when using platforms such as Amazon or eBay.
  • Use secure transactions: use secure payment methods and be wary of any deals that seem too good to be true. They probably are.
  • Understand deadlines: note the time frame within which a product can be returned or exchanged.
  • Verify restocking fees: be aware that some retailers may charge a restocking fee for returned items, especially electronics.

Tip: Shoppers should be ready to make quick decisions, as items can sell out rapidly. Prioritize popular items and visit/browse those sections first. Have your account set up beforehand to expedite the checkout process.

  • Stay vigilant: be alert of limited-time offers.
  • Decisive action: be prepared to act quickly.
  • Physical store strategy: head for high-demand items first.
  • Online account setup: register in advance for quicker checkout.

How Retailers Prepare for Black Friday

Retailers take several steps to ensure a successful and profitable sales event:

  • Planning ahead: preparations for Black Friday can begin as early as summer. This gives businesses time to analyze their previous years’ sales data and customer feedback. It also helps with pinpointing key products and promotions that will attract customers.
  • Enticing promotions: retailers offer exclusivity, coupons, bundles, and promotions on popular products to keep customers coming back. They also prioritize having better offers than their competitors.
  • Optimized online experience: websites and online stores are made user-friendly, with a seamless navigation experience. An optimized web platform also loads quickly and displays perfectly on mobile devices. The quality of the shopping cart and checkout functionalities are especially important for creating great customer experiences.
  • Email marketing: retailers use newsletters to inform customers about their Black Friday deals and offerings. Emails are sent out a few weeks before the event with teasers and sneak peeks of what to expect. As the event draws closer, the frequency of the emails rises, and special discount codes or early access is provided to reinforce customer engagement and anticipation.
  • Social media: stores create engaging and visually appealing content related to Black Friday discounts. Some of them also run social media contests and partner with influencers to promote their brand and offers.
  • Inventory management: a successful discount event relies heavily on having the right products in the right quantities. Retailers analyze historical sales data and trends to ensure they’ll have the right stock available for customer demand. They also strive to avoid potential supply chain issues impacting inventory levels at critical times.
  • Staff training: employees are the face of a business. Successful businesses ensure that their staff understand Black Friday promotions and can answer customer questions promptly and accurately.
  • Preparing for increased traffic: website servers have to handle the extra load as online traffic surges. Coordination with IT teams to test a server’s capacity is done beforehand, with any necessary adjustments being made before Black Friday starts. This avoids crashes and slow loading times during the event.
  • Excellent customer support: great customer service teams can efficiently handle the higher number of inquiries, returns, and exchanges during and after the event. Support is also offered through various channels, including phone, live chat, email, and others.

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday

Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman of the National Retail Federation and coined Cyber Monday. It debuted on November 28, 2005. It was a day set to encourage online shopping when e-commerce was still in its early stages. This event takes place on the Monday following Thanksgiving and caters exclusively to online shoppers.

While both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both in-store and online offers, their origins dictate their primary focus. Black Friday traditionally targets brick-and-mortar retail, with bustling crowds and early morning doorbuster deals. Conversely, Cyber Monday was created with online shopping in mind, leading to many online-only exclusive promotions.


Tip: Your choice between the two might come down to personal preferences: what items you aim to purchase and whether you enjoy the in-store experience or prefer online shopping.

Black Friday FAQs

What Is Black Friday?

It’s an annual event that traditionally happens on the day after Thanksgiving. It unofficially marks the start of the holiday shopping season. The day is characterized by significant sales and discounts from various retailers, both in physical stores and online.

Why Is It Called Black Friday?

It initially referred to the United States gold market crash of 1869. It then received its second connotation from Philadelphia in the 1960s. Police used the term to describe the heavy traffic, chaotic shopping after Thanksgiving, and the influx of people going to see the Army-Navy football game held after Thanksgiving. 

In modern times, the term refers to how businesses would use red ink in their ledgers to note losses, while blank ink was used to note profits. As such, it has a positive meaning now, alluding to a day of profits.

When Is Black Friday Happening?

The holiday falls on a varying date between November 23 and November 29. However, the exact date changes every year. In 2024, the date will be November 29.

How Does Black Friday Work?

Retailers offer significant discounts on various products to attract customers, who often see this as the best time to shop for the holidays due to the potential savings offered.

How Long Does Black Friday Last?

Originally a single-day event, it has grown to include the weekend following Thanksgiving, with some deals extending into Cyber Monday and beyond.

The sales often begin in the early morning hours, with some stores opening their doors as early as midnight. Some businesses even start their sales on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Are Black Friday Offers Really Worth It?

Some offers have substantial savings, but they can vary by retailer and product. Watch out for inflated “original prices,” and don’t buy items you don’t need just because they’re on sale. Shoppers should research prices beforehand to determine if they are getting a good deal. 

How Can I Find the Best Black Friday Deals?

Start by planning ahead. Identify what you want to buy and compare prices to know a good deal when you see one. Keep an eye on ads and online deal sites, and consider signing up for newsletters from your favorite retailers to get insider information about their sales.

Is Shopping Online Better than Going to Physical Stores on Black Friday?

This largely depends on your personal preference. Shopping in-store can be fun and exciting but also chaotic due to the large crowds. Choosing the online route provides comfort and convenience. Many retailers offer the same things in-store and online, and some even have online-exclusive deals, especially on Cyber Monday.