Police officers in Philadelphia were first to link Black Friday to the post-Thanksgiving period in the 1950s. Large crowds of tourists and shoppers came to the city the day after Thanksgiving for the Army-Navy football game, creating chaos, traffic jams and shoplifting opportunities.
Police officers in the city weren’t able to take the day off work and instead had to work long shifts to control the carnage, thus using the term “Black Friday” to refer to it.
As the name spread throughout Philadelphia, some of the city’s merchants and boosters disliked the negative connotations and unsuccessfully tried to change it to “Big Friday”.
Black Friday later became known in print, after an advertisement was published in The American Philatelist magazine in 1966. By the late 1980s, the term was commonly known across the nation and retailers soon linked it to their post-Thanksgiving sales.