Origins of “Black Friday”

It’s totally understandable if you think the term “Black Friday” is a direct linguistic descendant of “in the black,” accounting jargon for turning a profit. After all, the day after Thanksgiving is now one of the biggest shopping days of the year, an annual delight to retailers hoping to give their bottom lines a nice little boost in the year’s final weeks.

But the truth is that Black Friday owes its name to the Philadelphia Police Department, which did not have profitability in mind. One thing to remember is that, long before the rest of us started calling it Black Friday, retailers hoped to start the holiday shopping season with a bang by offering “can’t miss” deals right after Thanksgiving. (Note: These days, “holiday shopping season” can begin way before Turkey Day.) People being people, they have long stormed stores, caused traffic jams and been generally terrible to one another in an effort not to miss these deals.

In the middle years of the twentieth century, the scene was often particularly bad in Philadelphia, where the annual Army-Navy football game was regularly played on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Lots of cars, lots of traffic, lots of chaos. Sound familiar?

So at some point in the 1950s or 1960s — some put the date exactly at 1966— the Philadelphia Police Department started to refer to the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday,” with the unrealistic hope that people would find the whole shebang distasteful and opt out of the collective consumer madness. At a minimum, it was a derisive way to describe an unpleasant day in the life of a Philly cop.

“It was not a happy term.” retail scholar Michael Lisicky told CBS Philly in 2011. “The stores were just too crowded, the streets were crowded, the buses and the police were just on over call and extra duty.”

The term took off in a big way, but not for the reasons the cops hoped. By the 1980s, the idea gained steam that “Black Friday” was named after retailers trying to hop into the black, according to The Telegraph.


Then, somewhere along the way, Corporate America joyfully co-opted the phrase for their own purposes. Behold, modern-day re-purposing.


Weekly Economic Update

Existing home sales for October dipped 3.2 percent last week, and the National Association of Home Builders also reported a decline in their Housing Market Index.

Clearly the recent run-up in mortgage rates is having some impact on the housing recovery, which is still better than it was a year ago. 

The Fed will be looking closely at reports like these that come out before the end of the year as they weigh the decision to “taper” the bond-buying program that has been keeping interest rates low.

Bottom Line for Mortgages

Mortgage rates ticked up last week after the Fed released the minutes of their last meeting. Those minutes renewed fears about tapering. 



Weekly Economic Update

Last week, incoming Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen was on Capitol Hill for her confirmation hearings, and she signaled continued support for the Fed’s bond-buying program. This is good news for keeping rates at or near historic lows.

To stimulate the economy, the Fed has been buying $85 billion in bonds each month. In past monthly statements, they have said the timing of cutting back or “tapering” their bond purchases will depend on economic reports going forward. 

Yellen made the comment last week that “unemployment is down from a peak of 10%, but at 7.3% in October, it is still too high, reflecting a labor market and economy performing far short of their potential.

Bottom Line for Mortgages
Mortgage rates did improve slightly at the end of last week. It remains an excellent time to get pre-approved.


Weekly Real Estate Trends

90-day Market Stats for Single Family properties in
Jackson County, MO as of 08 Nov 2013
Median List Price: $147,750 Average List Price: $182,454
Total Inventory: 3,442 Price Per Square Foot: $78/SqFt
Average Home Size: 1,806 SqFt Median Lot Size: 29,302 SqFt
Average # Beds: 3.19 Average # Baths: 2.10
Homes Absorbed: 404 Newly Listed: 402
Days on Market: 73 days Average Age: 49 years
90-day Market Stats for Single Family properties in
Johnson County, KS as of 08 Nov 2013
Median List Price: $286,636 Average List Price: $369,557
Total Inventory: 2,048 Price Per Square Foot: $117/SqFt
Average Home Size: 2,576 SqFt Median Lot Size: 52,165 SqFt
Average # Beds: 3.76 Average # Baths: 2.85
Homes Absorbed: 272 Newly Listed: 274
Days on Market: 58 days Average Age: 28 years


Weekly Economic Update

The National Association of REALTORS released their 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers today, showing first-time home buyers declining as a percentage of all buyers. They made up 38% of the market, down slightly from their historical average of about 40%.

Last week’s Fed meeting gave us some more “breathing room” before we can expect mortgage rates to rise significantly, although they did . Their official statement said they have “decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.”

Bottom Line for Mortgages
Mortgage rates did inch up at the end of last week, but they remain near 4-month lows.