Where did 'Black Friday,' 'Cyber Monday' Come From?

 @ibtimes
on November 30 2009 4:58 PM

While the term “Black Friday” has been used for several decades by retailers, the public and media to describe the day after Thanksgiving, some new terms are coming into use to describe additional events in the holiday shopping cycle.

A relatively recent but less known addition to the marketing vocabulary has been “Cyber Monday,” with the more obscure “Green Monday” and “Brown Monday” trailing in mainstream acceptance.

Origins

Black Friday is the Friday just after Thanksgiving. It is considered an unofficial start of the holiday shopping season as well as one of the season’s busiest days.

One definition of the term refers to companies becoming profitable at the end of the year due to strong holiday sales. In accounting, a bookkeeper records a company’s losses in red ink while profits are recorded in black, hence “Black Friday.”

A less flattering interpretation of the name’s origin comes from amateur researcher Bonnie Taylor-Blake, as reported in Voice of America news. She says her research indicates that the term probably originated in the late 1950s or early 1960s as a “tongue-in cheek,” “pejorative” term by Philadelphia police to describe the drawbacks to heavy customer traffic on the streets and sidewalks of the city on that day. A previous, unrelated association of the term “Black Friday” referred to the 1869 crash of the gold market.

“Cyber Monday,” which is the Monday just after Thanksgiving, has been considered in recent years to be the start of the online holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation says it coined the term in 2005 to describe a sharp rise in online revenue and traffic the first Monday after Thanksgiving. Some of the spike has been attributed to consumers shopping from work on the first day after the holiday.

Less known are so-called “Green Monday” and “Brown Monday.”

“Green Monday” was a term used in 2007 for the first Monday in December by Josh Silverman, the former CEO of Shopping.com. He said people at his company started to use the term after noticing a pattern over several years that the highest levels of revenue and traffic to the company’s web site took place on that day. Green Monday sales outpaced Cyber Monday sales, according to Silverman.

Even more obscure is “Brown Monday,” the second Monday in December. It is the day when retailers begin to heavily promote free shipping offers (usually delivered in brown packaging) and discounts for customers in the pair of weeks before Christmas, according to Noah Belson, Content Quality Analyst on Yahoo’s Search Marketing Blog.

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