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Do you know the real history behind Black Friday? Most people believe that the name originates from the idea of stores moving from “in the red” meaning in debt, to in the black, meaning turning a profit. If that’s the origin you’re familiar with, then you’re half right. But it’s not the whole story.

The name Black Friday actually originates from Philadelphia. In the 1950s, Philadelphia hosted the annual Army-Navy football game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Fans who arrived early on the day before would flock to the city to start their Holiday shopping. The influx of out-of-town tourists, football fans, and holiday shoppers created massive traffic jams and congestion in the city creating a need for the entire Philadelphia Police Force needed to be on hand.

Due to the need for all personnel, officers were not allowed to take the Friday after Thanksgiving off. The entire force had to work extra-long hours to deal with the major event. This led to the police dubbing the day “Black Friday”. By the 1960s, the name had stuck.

There were several attempts by retailers to rename the day “Big Friday” in order to scrub the negative connotations. But the name Black Friday persisted. Over the next few decades, the name began to spread across the United States. It was in the 1980s that rebranding attempts changed the story to the one with which we are most familiar. Retailers boasted that Black Friday was the day that stores finally turned a profit, moving their ledgers from red to black.

[Photo Credit: New York Times]
[Photo Credit: New York Mag]

Over the years, Black Friday has grown from a day of sales to a promotional event that has nearly become a holiday in and of itself. What started as a small promotional event with sales to lure in customers soon grew to become a phenomenon. We’re now familiar with the sight of shoppers camping for hours outside of a store, or being swept into a mob of people just for a chance at a great deal.

Black Friday has since expanded beyond the physical shopping space with the creation of Cyber Monday in the early 2000’s, so named for the flood of online shopping deals.

But does Black Friday still hold as much sway over consumers as it has in the past?

In a 2021 Mood study, 65% of shoppers said they were not yet visiting stores as often as they did before Covid-19. Today, however, consumers are beginning to enjoy the physical shopping experience again. In fact, in Mood’s newest report, 71% of consumers throughout the world are now shopping in physical stores as often or even more often than before the pandemic.

Studies also show that 35% of consumers still plan on shopping in-person on Black Friday. Sales and promotions are still cited as the number one reason for shopping at certain retailers. In fact, 32% of shoppers say that they will shop with specific retailers during Black Friday and Cyber Monday because of pricing and promotional offers.

[Photo Credit: Buzzfeed]

The in-store experience plays a big role in consumers’ willingness to return to in-store shopping. To draw customers in the physical retail space though, great deals are only part of the equation. Shoppers still enjoy the fun and wonder of an engaging holiday shopping experience.

So how can you ensure that your store is meeting customer expectations this Black Friday?

Be sure to provide a space that engages shoppers and puts them in a positive mood. This can have a profound effect on their willingness to buy from your brand. 84% of shoppers said they would return to stores with a pleasant atmosphere.

To create this engaging experience, the sights, the sounds, and even the scent of the holiday all play a part. Seasonal holiday music playlists and nostalgic aromas are essential to creating a pleasant holiday atmosphere. Other amenities can also build positive views of your brand, with offerings like free Wi-Fi around your property and exciting visual displays.

[Photo Credit: New York Post]

Using Digital Signage in your stores can engage customers with visuals that not only engage and entertain your audience but can also educate and inform. Digital Signage can promote sales and special offers in eye-catching ways that printed signage simply can’t provide. And with the ability to easily and quickly update your signage online, you ensure that your content is consistent and accurate.

Digital signage is also a great way to alleviate congestion. Use signage to direct your shoppers to seasonal areas of the store, toward promoted items, or simply guide them to check out counters.

Use digital signage to communicate with your employees and back of house staff, as well. A few screens in the back-of-house areas and break rooms are an effective way to communicate to your teams. It’s vitally important to keep your staff aware of important information like inventory shortages, time sensitive promotions, or even just general tips and tricks for managing the larger than usual crowd of shoppers.

Black Friday has evolved over the years, but shoppers are always looking for great deals and engaging customer experiences. Set your business up for success this holiday season by delivering an in-store experience that is at once pleasant, inviting, interactive and engaging. Here’s hoping this year’s holiday shopping season is a successful one.

Click Here for more information on how to set the right tone for the holiday season at your store.

Click Here to get insights from our study on customer expectations from their physical shopping experiences.


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