Should we Rename Black Friday Sales in Australia?

When considering Black Friday, most of the world thinks of Americans violently descending upon retail stores and chaotically grabbing whatever they can get their hands on for a significant discount. However, in Australia, where the term is also used, it has a double meaning, which has led to the question: ‘should we rename Black Friday sales in Australia?’

It’s by no means an easy question to answer, but it’s a fair question to ask. We’re going to take a look at the history behind this name both in the context of Black Friday shopping and Australian history. By the time we reach the end of this article, maybe you’ll have a newly formed opinion. Let’s find out what that might be.

Origins of Black Friday In The United States

Before we discuss what Black Friday means for Australians, let’s understand what it means for Americans. In the 1960s, Philadelphia police would describe traffic chaos, which was the result of post-Thanksgiving shoppers, as Black Friday. Why they did that isn’t really clear, but it’s not the only reason the terminology exists. In the 80s, that phrase was readapted instead of looking at it from the retailer's perspective. Black Friday marked the day in which retail stores saw significant sales boosts, allowing them to see a red-to-black profit narrative emerge as a result.

We can dispute the exactness of the origins of the term ‘Black Friday’, but the reality of the day remains the same. So when did Black Friday start appearing in Australia?

Black Friday Spreads To Australia

It took a while for Black Friday to make its way to Australia. It started lightly in 2011 and began gaining popularity over the course of the 2010s. Apple extended their Black Friday deals to Australia in 2013, marking one of the most prominent examples of a Black Friday type sale from an international company in the country. Since then, the idea of Black Friday has spread throughout the country and is now an annual event not unlike the American iteration of the day of deals. 2017 is when Black Friday in Australia really began gaining traction in the country. It has since become a staple for the pre-holiday season.

What Black Friday Means For Australians Beyond The Sales

Unfortunately, Black Friday has a far deeper meaning for Australians beyond the day of sales it’s attached to around the world. See, it was in 1939 that a series of devastating bushfires tore through Victoria. It was titled the worst environmental disaster for Australia, and around the world, at the time. The extreme winds and severe drought only made the situation far worse. It resulted in the deaths of seventy-one people and destroyed over 1000 homes by January 13th, 1939. This environmental disaster would be coined the 1939 Black Friday Bushfires.

As the dust settled on the 1939 Black Friday Bushfires, the Victorian government went into action to preserve this historic event. They created a Royal Commission and collected over 2500 pages of testimony. For decades, a 34-page long document was considered required reading in Victorian schools. It contained images, history, and the events of the Black Friday bushfires. It was designed to ensure nobody forgot about what happened in Victoria and the calamity that it caused the state and local communities.

Since 1939, bushfires in Australia have continued to varying severity. Despite making improvements since 1939, both in policy and actions taken in communities, certain bushfires have become fresh examples of the devastating effects of these unfortunate events.

The Lingering Question: Should We Rename Black Friday Sales in Australia?

Now nobody is suggesting Australian retailers abandon the concept of Black Friday. Instead, what many are calling for is a change of name. It sounds so simple, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Many argue that the term Black Friday is just derived from the United States and is a product of the media and retailers, not legislation or federal recognition.

Arguments have been made for and against the potential name change of Black Friday. For example, some say that changing the name wouldn’t be uniform as stores would have to choose themselves if they wanted to adopt the name change. They’d also have to agree on a name change. The issue with Black Friday is that it wasn’t decided on by one person or one body, it was something that happened naturally over the course of several decades. This makes it far more difficult to change something that has existed for such a long time and has no real pinpoint. Like retailers back in the 80s who adopted the terminology, it was done as a choice, not a requirement. To effectively change the name, you’d have to make it a legal requirement, and that hasn’t always worked out either. Finally, the next issue is that Black Friday’s alternative names would have to be agreed upon to create a level of consistency. Who decides this change? How does consensus get built? Black Friday has name recognition, and that’s a major issue for brands and retailers who respect the history but can’t take that step towards making the change.

One argument for the changing of Black Friday has been that Black Friday no longer lasts just a single day. Instead, most retailers now have Black Friday specials for a whole week. While yes, this undermines the name attached to the sale, consumers don’t care. They are just happy to be experiencing the specials to begin with.

There’s an argument to be made that maybe you could call it whatever you wanted, and the consumers would still come shopping. However, there’s no guarantee, and retailers are wary of causing confusion and losing out on potential sales in what is a boom for the retail industry.


This is a loaded question, and we don’t believe there’s a right or wrong answer. It’s something that most likely will be getting asked for decades to come. In the meantime, Catch is preparing for our Black Friday sale, and this year, it’s going to be the best one yet! So create your account today and start getting those wishlists ready so you can get to the deals first.