Christmas Shopping Facts
Black Friday is generally considered the day following Thanksgiving which kicks off the Holiday Shopping Season. On this day, stores all over America have big sales to get people in the mood for shopping. There are some people who wait in lines, over night, to ensure that they are first to pick up on those "great deals". Black Friday then leads to "Cyber Monday", which is a new occasion to denote the Monday following Thanksgiving. While we are all supposed to be back to work, it is the time people get online to continue shopping. Don't worry, though. If you miss those two days of sales, there is plenty of time right up until December 25th to get your shopping in...to be followed by the day after Christmas sales! If you find any time to yourself, though, you might enjoy these Christmas Shopping Facts during the holiday season!
The term "Black Friday" is not a positive term. It originated in 1966 as slang by the Philadelphia police department to describe the day after Thanksgiving when the city streets became jam packed with shoppers in the downtown area who were just starting their Christmas shopping. Much like today, there were massive traffic jams, over-crowded sidewalks and frustrated customers mobbing the stores from opening to close.
Thanksgiving never used to have a set date. A day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by the President of the United States from the time of Abraham Lincoln. In 1939, this day happened on November 30th. At the time, the United States was going through a depression, Europe was at war, and things were in pretty bad shape wherever you turned. Retail stores in the United States asked President Franklin Roosevelt to change the date of Thanksgiving so that they could get better sales before the holidays. Roosevelt complied. Thanksgiving is now the last Thursday of November every year. Black Friday occurs the day after to help shops sell more goods each year.
Some say that credit cards are the bane of consumers. Others use them to buy the things they couldn't afford otherwise. Where did these little plastic cards come from? The original concept came from an 1887 book called, Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy. The book was about a utopian society where people no longer carried coins or paper money. The modern credit card was the successor of a variety of merchant credit schemes. It was first used in the 1920s, in the United States, specifically to sell fuel to a growing number of automobile owners. In 1938 several companies started to accept each other's cards. Western Union had begun issuing charge cards to its frequent customers in 1921. Some charge cards were printed on paper card stock, but were easily counterfeited. The concept of customers paying different merchants using the same card was expanded in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank McNamara, founders of Diners Club, to consolidate multiple cards. According to legend, McNamara went to dinner at Major's Cabin Grill in New York City and forgot his wallet. After talking his way out of doing the dishes to cover his tab, McNamara thought, "Never again!" In February of 1950, he and a partner founded Diners Club and returned to Major's with a small cardboard card. Frank signed for dinner, without a hassle, and the event was eventually dubbed “The First Supper."
A corner grocer from St. Paul, Minnesota, Walter H. Deubner, noticed that his customers were only purchasing the items they were able to carry, so he began to brainstorm ways that would enable his customers to carry more merchandise. After four years, he developed the grocery bag. Inexpensive, easy to use, and strong enough to carry up to 75 pounds of groceries, the package consisted of a paper bag with cord running through it for strength. Walter patented his product and by 1915 was selling over a million shopping bags a year.
The kids love it. When I was a child, we used to go to a store called Carlisle's (owned by Macy's Department Store) who had an actual miniature house outside the store where Santa Claus sat. You could go up to the house - which was designed like a life-sized Gingerbread home - and go in to speak to Santa. Some of the older readers of this blog from my hometown area will surely remember this. The first department store Santa appeared in 1890 in Brockton, Massachusetts. James Edgar, a philanthropist and department store owner thought that Santa lived so far away from children at the North Pole. It would be better for kids if he could actually talk to them and find out what they wanted for Christmas (and he could sell more products in his store, as well). He had a suit created from the pictures of Santa Claus artist, Thomas Nast, and the department store Santa was born!