Black Friday
n. The Friday after the United States Thanksgiving holiday, considered to be the busiest retail shopping day of the year.
Black Friday is the term coined for the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year as retailers go from "being in the red," to making a profit, or "being in the black."
—Carolyne Park, “130 million shoppers flock to stores,” Memphis Business Journal, November 25, 2005
Surrounded by hundreds of shoppers grabbing bargain-priced flat-screen television sets and portable music players early yesterday morning, Jill Mulhere was trying to figure out what happened to her shopping cart, heaped with presents, at the Best Buy store in Paramus, N.J. …

''You know,'' she said, ''my brother asked me at Thanksgiving, 'Was there really all this Black Friday pandemonium when we were growing up?'''
—Tracie Rozhon, “In Annual Rite, Shoppers Mob Holiday Sales,” The New York Times, November 27, 2004
Christmas decorations around Tampa Bay started going up in late October, and business has been brisk since then. And while Friday - known as Black Friday for the legendary hordes - will be the biggest shopping day for many area stores, others ring up the greatest sales the Saturday before Christmas.
—Marilyn Marks, “Retailers expect good sales this Christmas,” St. Petersburg Times, November 27, 1986
1961 (earliest)
For downtown merchants throughout the nation, the biggest shopping days normally are the two following Thanksgiving Day. Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday.
Public Relations News, December 18, 1961
Thanks to word sleuth Bonnie Taylor-Blake for uncovering the 1961 usage (although see also my own possible 1959 discovery).
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