Amazing Black Friday Trivia
Happy Black Friday to all! Here are some fun tidbits to share with your loved ones
Do you know where the name “Black Friday” comes from?
Can you guess which services industry claims Black Friday as its busiest day of the year?
Which shopping day generates more sales — Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
In today’s Black Friday edition of the Digest, since the markets are shutting down early (and everyone is out shopping anyway), let’s have some fun. Specifically, let’s look at some entertaining Black Friday and Cyber Monday factoids.
If you’re tired of turkey, football, or your relatives, here’s your escape.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to you and yours!
***Everything you don’t know about Black Friday … but should
Let’s begin by going way back …
The original “Black Friday” dates back to September 24, 1869. That’s when Jay Gould and Jim Fisk tried to corner the gold market. Neither individual was exactly a pillar of virtue, but Gould especially was ruthless, having earned the name “The Mephistopheles of Wall Street.”
In short, their scheme was discovered by President Ulysses Grant, who subsequently released huge gold reserves to offset the run-up in price caused by Gould and Fisk. This caused gold’s price to plummet in a matter of minutes.
The stock market plunged as well, bankrupting or inflicting massive financial damage on some of Wall Street’s most venerable firms. Thousands of speculators were ruined financially — and at least one committed suicide.
Okay, with that heartwarming origin story out of the way, let’s turn to the most recent “Black Friday” to learn how it got its name.
The common legend is that the original name for the day after Thanksgiving was “Big Friday.” Black Friday was a tongue-in-cheek term originating with the Philadelphia police department.
Allegedly, they began calling the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday in the mid-1970s, due to traffic congestion and smog caused by holiday shoppers venturing out for holiday shopping. While used in Philly for nearly two decades, the term didn’t become popular on a national scale until the 1990s.
Now, History.com, refutes this story. It claims that Philadelphia police used the term “Black Friday” in response to a different source of traffic chaos.
Can you guess what it was?
Massive attendance for the annual Army-Navy football game held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. As this version of the story goes, everyone drove into Philadelphia on “Black Friday,” leading to a traffic nightmare.
Regardless of whether we can thank shopping or football for the atrocious traffic, here are a few more random Black Friday factoids for you …
It only became the biggest shopping day of the year starting in 2001. Prior to that, can you guess which day held the title?
It was the Saturday before Christmas, beating Black Friday every year.
Another question — can you remember in which year retail stores changed policy and began opening up on Thanksgiving night?
We can thank (or blame) Walmart for that back in 2011. It became the first major retailer to open their stores on Thanksgiving evening, leading to a new name — Gray Thursday.
This year, more than 30 million Americans will crush their cranberry and turkey then head out for shopping on Thanksgiving evening.
Now, I must warn you, the following two trivia questions push the envelope a bit. Brace yourself …
How many shoppers on Black Friday are drunk?
Yes, you read that right.
RetailMeNot reports that the answer is 12%. This suddenly puts all those Black Friday fights into a different light …
As to the second questionable piece of trivia, which services industry claims Black Friday as its busiest day of the entire year?
As crazy as it sounds, CNN reported that plumbers are busiest the day after Thanksgiving because they’re needed to clean up after guests who “overwhelm the system.”
***What about Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday only dates back to 2005.
It was conceived by the National Retail Federation as a way to encourage people to do more online shopping.
Now, have you ever wondered why Cyber Monday is, well, “Monday” and not, say, Cyber “Saturday”? Back in 2005 when the shopping day was conceived, the internet was far slower than it is today. So, far more people did their online shopping from work rather than home (I’m guessing due to both faster connections at work, as well as a greater willingness to waste employer’s time than personal time).
As a result, in the early days of online shopping, the majority of digital sales came on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Even now, 95% of employees admit they’ll shop while at work on Cyber Monday.
So, what sort of revenues will it bring in?
Last year, Cyber Monday broke its prior online sales record, generating $7.9 billion in revenue. That was a 19.3% increase from 2018.
But that begs a question — which is bigger? Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
Last year, U.S shoppers set a Black Friday record too — $6.2 billion … but as you can see, Cyber Monday takes the day.
Back to Cyber Monday statistics …
Apparently, sales will peak at 11:25 am. And of those sales, Amazon will be a huge winner.
During Cyber Monday’s peak time, Amazon will sell roughly 320 products … per second.
Now, we’re going to digress just a bit, but go with me …
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are obviously huge sales days (in fact, more than 165 million people are expected to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend), but do you want to know what’s even bigger?
And yes, the name is an homage to singles around the world. The date it falls on — 11/11 — was chosen because the number “1” signifies someone who is alone.
Depressing? Perhaps. Great deals? Absolutely.
Now, if you haven’t heard of Singles Day, that’s because it comes from China … and as many things China-related, it’s enormous.
***The biggest shopping day in the world
Singles day is put on by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut, Alibaba.
On this most recent Singles Day just a couple weeks ago, Alibaba set a sales record totaling $38.4 billion in gross merchandise volume. That was an increase of 26% over 2018’s Singles Day.
For perspective — we just noted how in 2018, Cyber Monday sales hit a record $7.9 billion and Black Friday sales came in at a record $6.2 billion. That means Singles Day sales are approaching 3-times that of our two biggest sales days combined.
Here’s some even crazier context …
We all know Amazon does huge sales, right? For the entire third-quarter of 2019, Amazon’s sales were $70 billion.
But this means that Singles Day this year generated more than half of Amazon’s entire quarterly sales …in just 24 hours.
Another trivia question for you — on this most recent Singles Day, how long did it take Alibaba to sell $1 billion worth of goods?
***Given these amazing numbers, I would be remiss not to use this as an opportunity to slip an actual investing concept into this Digest …
Give your portfolio some exposure to China!
Here in the Digest, we’ve brought you Chinese investment ideas over the past many months. There’s Chinese biotechs, which Matt McCall views as “an investment that may have the biggest upside potential I have ever seen.”
There are also Chinese tech stocks. Last week, we told you how Beijing has invested $50 billion in just two Chinese technology funds … since October.
From The Wall Street Journal:
The government-backed fund … will invest in companies working on areas including new materials, next-generation information technology and electrical equipment …
Those three areas are among the 10 cutting-edge sectors that China has prioritized in its “Made in China 2025” plan to dominate globally in technology.
Plus, keep in mind the growth of Chinese cities in the coming decades and what that will mean for investments in real estate and ancillary services. According to Portwood Capital, the combination of Chinese urbanization alongside normal growth points to the need for 115 billion square feet of housing in the next 15 years.
How much is that?
Approximately 37 new Londons or 29 new New York Cities!
I understand you have leftovers calling your name, so I’ll cut this short here. But please, if you haven’t already, consider China for some of your investment dollars in 2020. The growth over the coming decades is going to be enormous. That’s why Matt McCall, Eric Fry, and Louis Navellier have all independently positioned their subscribers into Chinese stocks.
***A big “thanks” to you
As we wrap up, I’m reminded of one of my parents’ Thanksgiving traditions from many years ago — going around the table with everyone saying something for which they’re thankful.
Here at the Digest, one of the things we’re thankful for is you. We appreciate you giving us your time each afternoon. It’s a pleasure to do our best to help you become a wealthier, wiser investor.
Happy Black Friday,
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.