The Logic Behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday with Scrabble tiles spelling out Black Friday

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What are you planning to do on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? If you own a retail business, then you are probably trying to decide whether or not it is worth it to hold sales. Business owners like you all over the United States make that decision every year and many of them decide to jump right into the fray.

Every year, consumers around the world start preparing their plan of attack for how to get the best deals during these critical shopping holidays. There is nothing random about these dates. In fact, retail organizations are always thinking of new ways to help customers empty their wallets with sales tactics and you should definitely consider it too.

History of Black Friday

How did Black Friday and Cyber Monday start? Though Cyber Monday is a relatively new concept, Black Friday has actually been around since the early 1900s. It all goes back to the famous store-sponsored Thanksgiving day parade.

Since the inception of the parade, the festivities were always concluded with Santa Claus on his sled handing out presents. The presence of Santa officially started the holiday shopping season. The stores honored that tradition and did not begin advertising their holiday sales until the Friday after the parade.

The president intervenes

Here’s the twist. Back then, Thanksgiving was always on November 30. The stores thought this date left them too little time to market their holiday sales. To try and remedy this, they came up with a plan. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association approached President Franklin Roosevelt with an idea. They suggested that it was a good idea to move Thanksgiving up a week so the shopping season could last longer.

That got Roosevelt thinking. With the fear that less shopping would hurt the economy, he agreed to move the holiday to the fourth Thursday of November. Congress made it official, and in 1941, the foundation of  Black Friday and, later, Cyber Monday was secured.

What’s in a name

So how did the name Black Friday originate? While there is no definitive answer, there are several theories.

The first theory relates to the financial terms of being in the black or the red. When a retailer is in the red, it means that they are facing a net loss. When they are in the black, it means the company is making a profit. The idea is that on this one day, a company may get so much extra business that they become profitable, or move into the black on the day after Thanksgiving.

The other theory is that Black Friday’s name is after the mayhem associated with shopping on that day. Many historians believe the name goes back to 1960s Philadelphia. They say that local police and bus drivers started using the nickname because of the madness on the roadways. The history of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is truly one for the ages.

Black Friday and the Christmas Creep

Moving Thanksgiving up one week was just the beginning of the tricks the retail industry had up its sleeve to bring in shoppers. It used to be that stores would advertise for Christmas only during the month of December. However, in the 1980s, we started to see the Christmas creep.

The Christmas creep is a phenomenon that goes on to this day. Do you ever notice how it seems as if companies start advertising their Christmas sales earlier and earlier every year? That is all by design and you should consider doing it as well.

When the creep began, stores started advertising before Black Friday. By 2002, stores like Walmart and Target began advertising in mid-October. Currently, some advertisers even push Christmas in July sales. This phenomenon ties in with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The idea they want customers to believe is that the best deals are happening earlier and earlier. And if they miss them while they’re hot, they might be left empty-handed. It is a great way to drum up sales and increase your profits.

History of Cyber Monday

It is fair to say that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Though it seems as though Cyber Monday has been around forever, it has only existed since 2005.

It was this year when folks at the National Retail Federation realized that there was money to be made with a holiday based around online shopping. In 2005, home internet was still relatively slow with the fastest internet usually available in office buildings where people work. The geniuses at the NRF realized that there were many consumers who opted to skip the battle that is Black Friday and wait until they got to work on Monday to use the fast internet to get their discounts online.

Looking to encourage this idea, the NRF put out a press release on called “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year.” With that statement, the term Cyber Monday became official. The invention of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been terrific for businesses’ bottom lines. Billions of dollars are generated every year on these two days, but more on that below.

Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Still Thriving Today

Obviously, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still going strong to this day. What is the logic behind keeping them going? It’s simple. Retailers are making a killing with these shopping holidays.


While everyone loves being in the holiday spirit, what stores really care about is profits, and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday cash continues to flow in year after year. Making money is the primary reason that these days exist. Every year, stores earn higher profits than they did during the preceding year. In 2017, retailers made $7.9 billion on Black Friday. That was up 18 percent from the year prior.

It’s an event

Black Friday is one of the most highly anticipated shopping days of the year. However, the sales are only half of it. The fact is that the day after Thanksgiving has become somewhat of a holiday itself.

Many people get a kick out of taking the family and camping outside of a store in the wee hours of the morning. There is also the thrill that goes with running into the store as soon as those doors open and trying to be the first in line for that hot new entertainment system.

Retailers know how excited people get, which is why they help to build up the anticipation. Dueling retailers even try to outdo each other by opening earlier and earlier each year. Some even open as early as seven in the morning on Thanksgiving day.

Sales Strategies to Take Advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

How do companies make these profits on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Easy, they employ proven sales tactics including carrying only limited quantities of hot items, selling off-brand products, and use excitement to make their discounts look better.

Limited quantities

One of the most common tactics that stores advertise is the idea that the best deals are first-come, first served. At some point, everyone has seen an ad that has a big screened television going for a fraction of the price. Below the product, the fine print will state something to the effect of “limited quantities” with no rain check available.

The result will be thousands of people showing up to one store to try and be the first in line to get this amazing deal. The strategy is great to not only sell that product, but also keep the customer in the store and appeal to them with your other sales. Once customers get to the store and find that they are out of luck on the deal, the chances are good that they will still stick around and purchase something else.

Sell off-brand products

If you have products that you notice have not been selling, try adding them to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads. A lot of retailers use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to get rid of their inventory of less sought-after brands. For example, many of the big screen TVs they advertise might be Dynex, Seiki, and Element. These are the brands that customers might not go to first on any other day of the year. However, the draw of a deal is enough to have the customers flocking.

In many cases, retailers also sell electronics and kitchen appliances that they do not sell much of during the rest of the year. Items such as donut makers and low-grade blenders are often on sale for great prices. Again, even though customers usually aren’t thrilled about these items, the lure of Black Friday excitement draws them in.

Use excitement to make discounts look better

Retailers know that customers are going to be arriving in droves on Black Friday, so they actively work to make deals even more enticing. You can tap into the excitement of the shopping days to make sales look great. Studies have shown that the products “on sale” on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are often the same price at other times of the year. Usually, it is just the wording in the ads that convince people they are getting a deal.

Cyber Monday Continues to Thrive

Since its creation, Cyber Monday sales have steadily increased year after year. During the first year in 2005, retailers made $484 million in electronic sales. By 2010, sales had hit the $1 billion mark, and as of 2015, customers paid over $3 billion in online purchases.

Why people take advantage of Cyber Monday

The logic behind Cyber Monday is capturing the customers who aren’t able to attend Black Friday events or don’t have an interest in braving the crowds.

There are many reasons that customers skip Black Friday and opt for Cyber Monday. There are those who wish to spend the holidays with their families instead of waiting in line hoping to get a great deal. Cyber Monday is also great for shoppers who do not live near the stores that they love. Finally, the online marketplace has an almost unlimited number of products available to customers from the comfort of their home or office. If you have a website set up for your store, this is a great way to appeal to your customers.

Take Advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Millions of customers will be hitting the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. These customers are going to generate billions of dollars in sales for the holiday season. Being a retail store owner means that you should absolutely take advantage of the excitement people feel for these days. The customer’s desire to get all of their Christmas shopping out of the way in one day is great for businesses like yours. Not only will you increase your profits, but you can get rid of some of the stock that maybe isn’t selling. The days were literally invented to benefit you as a business owner, don’t sell your business short by ignoring that.


Featured image: CC0, via Max Pixel

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