BLACK FRIDAY….This morning’s breakfast table conversation:

MARIAN: Did you hear about all those people who got trampled at a Wal-Mart?

ME: Ah, the annual Christmas trampling story.

Lance Mannion has the goods, so to speak. On a related note, Digby airs a different pet peeve about “Black Friday Kabuki” here.

For myself, I note that a Nexis search shows that in the four days prior to Friday the nation’s news outlets ran 348 stories that mentioned “Black Friday.” Last year the count was 185 over the same Monday-Thursday period. If there’s a growth industry in America, that’s it.

UPDATE: In comments, Mike suggests that the news media started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday” only a few years ago. Is this true? I did a Nexis search for the final ten days of November (search term = “black friday” and thanksgiving) and here’s what I got:

  • 1985: 0 references

  • 1990: 6 references

  • 1995: 31 references

  • 2000: 216 references

  • 2005: 630 references and counting

Sophisticated readers will recognize that Nexis has added new clients to its news database over the years, which makes this data useless for serious analysis. But it’s perfect for blog analysis! “Black Friday” stories are indeed a growth industry.

On a related note, the first reference I found to the term “Black Friday” was in a World News Tonight segment by Dan Cordtz from November 26, 1982: “Some merchants label the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday because business today can mean the difference betweeen red ink and black on the ledgers.”

The news media then went into silence on the subject until a Washington Post story dated November 20, 1987, which provided the following advice: “Do not shop next weekend (unless you’re into S&M or S&Ls). The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year ? store workers call it ‘Black Friday.’”

This suggests that the phrase was invented by retail workers peering apprehensively out their windows at the post-holiday mobs waiting to shop. However, a story in the Post eight days later confirms that it is “the day when the surge of holiday buying ? and profit ? is supposed to put [retailers] into the black.” But this same story also includes the following explanation: “‘We call it Black Friday because it’s the busiest shopping day of the year,’ said Andria Tedesco, 19, who was waiting on customers at Bailey Banks & Biddle jewelry store.”

Take your pick.