Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday – What Does it all Mean?

We’ve all heard about Black Friday, the infamous start of the holiday shopping season. But how did we end up with Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday?

The term Black Friday seems to have actually gotten its start in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, where automotive, pedestrian and indoor traffic caused by huge numbers of shoppers made it a rough day for police officers and cab drivers, who gave the Friday after Thanksgiving the name many know it by today.

Later this relatively negative sounding origin would be softened by the spreading of the idea that accounting practices relating black ink to profits led to the Black Friday moniker, as the profitable holiday shopping season kept retailers “in the black.” However, there appears to be no evidence of this idea surfacing until sometime in the 1980’s.

Recent years have seen the largest retailers gaining the most benefit from the Black Friday craze, as Black Friday Deals from the likes of Best Buy, Target and Wal Mart compete with one another for consumer attention and dollars.

Cyber Monday – A Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Unlike Black Friday, which naturally became a day for many to start their holiday shopping since they had they day off from work, there is evidence that Cyber Monday started out as a creative marketing myth.

A trade association for online retailers invented the term “Cyber Monday” in 2005, in order to “create some consumer excitement.”

The marketing implied that the Monday after Thanksgiving had become remarkable in the amount of online purchases made.

At the time, statistics showed that the Monday after Thanksgiving actually ranked 12th for online spending, not even in the top 1/3 of the 32 day long shopping season.

Admittedly, the campaign turned out to be brilliantly effective in its ability to affect the behavior of consumers, as Cyber Monday 2011 was a record breaker.

Small Business Saturday – A Shopping Day Worth Supporting

Small Business Saturday is a different kind of effort, for which American Express gets the credit.

Small Business Saturday was officially kicked off in 2010, when American Express used radio, television and social media to successfully gain huge support for a day of “supporting small businesses and all they do for their communities.”

The movement met with continued success for 2011, when AMEX approximates that 103 million Americans shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday and generated a 23% increase in AMEX transactions.


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