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“Black Friday” – The History Of The Discount Frenzy

Every year, an avalanche of discounts and sales rolls around the world. It’s called Black Friday. On this day, almost all stores bring down prices for popular or stale products. And satisfied customers, driven by a thirst for cherished freebies, sweep off the shelves even what they do not need. And this is the whole secret of profit! But what is Black Friday? We will tell you the most complete and comprehensive history of this phenomenon.

Templars, Witches and Evil Spirits

It all started, as it should, a long time ago. And by all the laws of fairy tales around the campfire. We will start with the mysterious and mystical. Initially, the term “Black Friday” was not officially fixed. It was just a slang word. It meant any 13th day that fell on the last weekday of the week. This number is loved by fans of all sorts of legends and scary tales. After all, these are two ancient symbols of misfortune and failure, which have merged into one new one. Especially superstitious and trusting residents of Western and Central Europe believed that on Fridays evil spirits roam the earth. It tempts negligent workers and sinners to shirk their righteous behavior during the long-awaited workers ‘and peasants’ weekends. Some British myths said that on Fridays 12 witches came to the Sabbath, calling the 13th drinking companion of Satan himself.

Jacques de Molay

On October 13 (guess right, it was Friday), 1307, Jacques de Molay was arrested in France. He was the last master of the Templar Order, the head of the most powerful Masonic organization at that time. On charges of heresy and interference in the politics of king Philip IV, all high-ranking members of the order were arrested. They were tortured and then burned at the stake.

Black Friday in the Golden Room

By the nineteenth century, when everyone had forgotten about Jacques de Molay, the Templars and their grates with Philip. But most Europeans considered Friday the 13th something scary and dark. Those who didn’t grow up with old tales of witches and evil spirits felt the thrill of this day on some subconscious level. But in the United States, which, as you know, was founded by former Europeans, the term “black Friday” became a symbol of fear, not primitive and mystical, but quite a material one: in 1869, the first strong shock on the American stock exchange occurred, triggering the global economic crisis.
It all started with the fact that respectable American citizens Jay Gould and James Fisk, who were then managers of the famous Erie Railroad, decided to earn money. And suddenly the fares were raised. After thinking about it (probably not enough), speculators decided to provoke an increase in the price of gold. And this would lead to an increase in grain prices, which would increase the price of its transportation, which would lead to an increase in tariffs. However, their mysterious plan got a little out of control. Even the us President was involved in the Scam. They did not take into account that the state will decide to stabilize the situation.
When the exchange rate of gold, to the delight of the hands of Gould and Fisk, soared by as much as 65%, the national Treasury threw a lot of precious metals on the market. This is how they tried to stabilize the fluctuations. However, this caused a collapse: the exchange rate collapsed immediately by 30%, and with $ 7 million invested in the “business”, Gould covered his expenses and even received 3 million net profit. But other brokers went bankrupt. As a result, both crooks left the railway in disgrace and were inundated with lawsuits. And Jay Gould was once hunted by a mob. At the same time, James Fisk, who also got away with it, was shot by his ex-wife’s lover, although there is no official evidence that this was related to black Friday.
In 1972, in New Orleans, Newspapers published a story about the events of 1869 and the stock market crisis. The authors of the dramatic work called it a “social play”, and it was published under the title “Black Friday”.

First Sale in History

Since then, black Friday has been associated primarily with poverty and crisis in the minds of most people. This situation was repeated several times, for example, in 1973, when the world was hit by another stock market crash that triggered the global financial crisis called the “Long depression” (let’s divide, this is not the Great depression, this is a different concept). It was during this period that enterprising businessmen began to come up with ways to squeeze the remaining pennies out of citizens so as not to lose their own millions. To do this, they sold the goods that were gathering dust on the shelves in any possible way, but the most legal and fair came up with the legendary entrepreneur Frank Woolworth.
As a bright young man, Frank worked in a store in New York. The store owner gave him the task to sell all the goods left on the shelves. According to the legend, otherwise Woolworth was waiting for dismissal. Anyway, he didn’t think about it for a long time, but just dumped all the goods on one big counter. Then he put up a sign saying ” all for 5 cents.” In a matter of hours, all the stores were emptied, and the cash register was full. After a while, Frank decided to start his own business. Through trial and error, Woolworths upgraded the existing sales system. He created a self-service store, set up a cash register at the entrance, invented a discount system, and so on. This is how the first supermarket and discounter in history appeared — Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store.

Free Turkeys From the Mafia Boss

These days, black Friday is timed to coincide with thanksgiving. It is believed that this is due to some ancient traditions. They were established in the era of either the civil war in the United States, or the confrontation between cowboys and Indians. However, sales owe their beautiful history and connection to the Christmas troubles and the spirit of unity to one person. WE are talking about the legendary boss of American organized crime, al Capone. When the next crisis raged in the States, this time the Great depression, Woolworths ‘ concept of working with clients was adopted by other resourceful guys. While the authorities were struggling with anything but unemployment and poverty, representatives of organized crime decided to earn popularity points, in particular, those engaged in bootlegging, betting and underground production, and the sale of drugs and weapons of the legendary al Capone’s gang.
The most striking story, combining black Friday and the ingenious commercial finds of the father of the criminal world, happened just on thanksgiving day, either in 1930, or in 1933 (sources differ on this issue). At that time, the mafia literally fed homeless and unemployed people, providing them with three meals a day: not luxury cuisine, of course, but hot soup, doughnuts, and even meat. Some people talk about beef, others call it stew, but this does not change the essence.
Seeing that from the storm of the streets he becomes almost a caring uncle, Capone ordered to buy a huge number of turkeys for the holiday. More than 5,000 birds were given to residents of several cities completely free of charge. And at that time, for most citizens, it was an impossible dream. Since the 30s, the pre-Christmas sale has become a traditional and annual event, so we all have to say thank you to Signor Capone.

Cops, Chaos & Sales

The year of birth of the familiar “black Friday” can be considered 1966. It was then, during the next sale immediately after thanksgiving, there were terrible stampedes of people rushing for freebies. It all happened there, in New York. The announcement of large discounts in stores played a cruel joke with the owners of shopping centers — because of the excitement, the city was paralyzed by multi-kilometer traffic jams, which even Ksenia Borodina did not dream of, going to buy in the TSUM. There were accidents, people abandoned their cars and ran on foot. And the entrance to the shopping areas resembled an hourglass. As a result, the term “black Friday” in relation to the then-traditional day of sales was officially used by local police. They were shocked by the road collapse and the masses in stores. By the way, this day was almost a record number of thefts. Particularly resourceful citizens took advantage of the fact that the sellers gave up their nerves. The stampede was huge, with sellers trying 10 people at a time. Since then, the media has picked up the name and firmly introduced it into the conversation of Americans and Europeans.
For several years now, the national retail Federation of the United States has been calculating statistics on black Friday sales. According to the latest data, these days the number of buyers across the country exceeds 200 million people every year. And satisfied customers leave an average of about $ 400 at the checkout. The previous time, the volume of purchases during the post-thanksgiving sales period accounted for almost 20% of all retail sales in the States for the entire year. And this is clearly not the limit. It is no secret that many companies (including in Russia, where black Friday is also slowly becoming a tradition) hang discounts either on products that are subject to recycling, or on price tags that are initially inflated relative to cost. In General, buy wisely and try not to be led on the speculation of unscrupulous sellers.