Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Look Behind the Holiday Shopping Madness

See how holiday spending reached new heights with these two epic days of retail deals.

With the holidays fast-approaching and Black Friday only 2 days away, retailers (not to mention shoppers) are in full-on savings mode.

And while there was once concern that Cyber Monday deals would destroy the Black Friday tradition, the 2 have seemed to only strengthen each other over the past few years, creating a holiday shopping frenzy that keeps shoppers coming back for more.

So when did camping out in front of Walmart after a delicious turkey dinner become a thing?

From humble beginnings to holiday shopping madness

Crazy as it seems, when the term Black Friday first came to fruition, it wasn’t in reference to a sale at the Gap.

The origin of the name is twofold. In Philadelphia in the 1960s, “Black Friday” described heavy post-Thanksgiving traffic, which made things grim for the city’s police and public transportation. The phrase eventually spread throughout the country during the 70s. It’s also been suggested that the term was used among retailers to describe the point in the year when they finally stopped operating at a loss and started to be “in the black.”

In both scenarios, Black Friday represents the start of holiday shopping madness — massive crowds and traffic, all rushing toward early-bird specials and half-priced digital cameras.

Since 2002, Black Friday has been one of the busiest shopping days of the year … and it’s not showing any sign of a downturn. Last year, spending for the Black Friday 4-day holiday weekend skyrocketed with a record $59.1 billion in sales — a $6.7 billion jump from 2011.

Holiday shopping hits the web

In 2005, Black Friday’s little sister, Cyber Monday, came along as a way to help online retailers get in on the action. By 2009, Cyber Monday was right behind Black Friday as the second-highest spending day of the year, bringing in over $800 million.

As online and mobile shopping become more popular, retailers continue to create new ways to capitalize on internet traffic. Amazon offers Lightning Deals throughout the day on Cyber Monday, updating and adding new sales every 10 minutes, and Walmart now celebrates Cyber Week, stretching sales over 7 days.

Predictions for 2013

While we won’t know for certain until next weekend, all signs point to another record-breaking year. Deal-finding blog Fatwallet.com estimates shoppers will enjoy over 40,000 different ways to save in 2013 (a 50 percent increase from last year), with sales predicted to climb sky-high based on fewer shopping days this holiday season.

In the digital world, Cyber Monday is forecasted to see a 15 percent increase in spending, reaching over $2 billion. And, on the ground, FedEx is already set to hire “tens of thousands” of holiday workers in order to tackle what they expect to be their busiest shipping day ever.

Mall maniac or worshiper of the web?

No matter what kind of shopping you decide to do this weekend, there are 2 things to remember. If you’re headed to the mall, give yourself enough travel time. Crowded shops mean hectic parking lots, so if you need that 7 a.m. door buster, leave early and try to practice patience.

And if you prefer to stay home with your spoon in the Cool Whip (no judgment), remember you can enjoy Cyber Monday every day with Esurance. Our stress-free online quotes for car, homeowners, and renters coverage can help you find the perfect policy to protect that shiny new SUV you got for a song, or the beautiful, way-too-big-for-anyone’s-living room flat screen that you scored for pennies on the dollar.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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