Black Friday Trivia

There's been lots of doom and gloom of late in the retail industry, including predictions of poor turnout for this weekend's holiday shopping kickoff. The National Retail Federation predicts up to 128 million people plan to shop this weekend, slightly down from the 135 million predicted at this time last year. But the combination of pent up demand and lower gas prices might just bump the numbers up.

Instead of lamenting over the situation, I asked my friend and long-time retail-pro Dan Conway to provide some retail trivia for the occasion.

In the USA, why is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday known as Black Friday?
Santa.jpgMany consider it the official beginning to the holiday season. The "black" in the name comes from the standard accounting practice of using red ink to denote negative values (losses) and black ink to denote positive values (profits). Black Friday is the day when retailers traditionally get back "in the black" after operating "in the red" for the previous months, often by cutting prices considerably. Although Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year in terms of customer traffic, the last Saturday before Christmas usually has the highest sales volume.

Who invented the credit card?
According to credit card lore, in 1949 Frank McNamara went to dinner at Major's Cabin Grill in New York City and forgot his wallet. After talking his way out of doing the dishes to cover his tab, McNamara thought, "Never again!" In February of 1950, he and a partner founded Diners Club and returned to Major's with a small cardboard card. Frank signed for dinner, without a hassle, and the event was eventually dubbed “The First Supper."

Who invented the shopping bag?
A corner grocer from St. Paul, Minnesota, Walter H. Deubner, noticed that his customers were only purchasing the items they were able to carry, so he began to brainstorm ways that would enable his customers to carry more merchandise. After four years, he developed the grocery bag. Inexpensive, easy to use, and strong enough to carry up to 75 pounds of groceries, the package consisted of a paper bag with cord running through it for strength. Walter patented his product and by 1915 was selling over a million shopping bags a year.

Who invented the cash register?
POS.jpgJames Ritty, a tavern owner in Dayton, Ohio, created a device with keys, a bell, and levers to open a drawer and record the amount in an attempt to keep employees from stealing cash. His friend John Birch helped with the tooling.

On January 30, 1883, James Ritty and John Birch received a patent for the cash register. James Ritty created what was nicknamed the "Incorruptible Cashier" or the first working, mechanical cash register. His invention came with that familiar bell sound referred to in advertising as "The Bell Heard Round the World".

After reading a description of the cash register designed by James Ritty and sold by the National Manufacturing Company, John H. Patterson decided to buy both the company and the patent. He renamed the company the National Cash Register (NCR) Company in 1884.

John Patterson improved the cash register by adding a paper roll to record sales transactions. He also hired Charles Kettering, who added an electric motor to create the first electronic cash register. Kettering also is known for inventing the spark plug, leaded gasoline, and automatic transmission. He and Dr. Alfred Sloan later established the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.

1962 was a good year for retail. Which three discount retail chains opened their first stores in that year?
Target%201962.png1. Dayton-Hudson opened the Target Store in Roseville, Minnesota.
2. S.S. Kresge opened the first Kmart discount department store in Garden City, Michigan.
3. Sam Walton (owner of several Ben Franklin Stores) opened the first Wal-Mart Store in Rodgers, Arkansas.

In the USA, what is the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday known as?
Cyber Monday – typically the busiest day for Internet shopping. Contributed to the fact shoppers who shopped on Black Friday and the following weekend didn’t find what they wanted in the stores and are checking price, availability on-line, and shipping options.

Thanks Dan. Enjoy your shopping!

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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