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What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an Idiom.


Step 1: You will listen to an article about Black Friday, or one of the busiest shopping days. The article is about four minutes long. Listen only, and don't worry about understanding everything. Step 2: Read and understand the questions, then listen again. As you are listening, try to answer the questions in your head. Don't write the answers yet. Next, listen again and write the answers this time. Check your answers with a partner. Step 3: Read the article. Check in your dictionary any unknown words. Now listen again. Can you understand more? Step 4: Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to the article on the train or in your free time. Each time you listen, you will slowly improve!


Written by Chris Cotter

Narrated by Laura Jeffcoat

Black Friday refers to the day just after Thanksgiving in the US. Because so many companies have a four day weekend, many people begin their Christmas shopping on this day. (Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday in the US, and then people have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off from work.) Black Friday is often reported as one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Shopping malls are packed with people, parking lots are crowded, and lines at stores are very, very long. Some stores even open at five or six in the morning because there are so many people. Other stores have discounts and sales to draw even more customers.

The word "black" to describe the Friday likely began in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. Traffic jams filled the roads into the downtown area every year. The stores and sidewalks were overflowing with shoppers. The experience for so many of the people who ventured downtown was stressful and chaotic. It was a terrible, or black, day. Because other cities around the country similarly experienced traffic jams, busy stores, and too many shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving, the term spread. Black Friday became a common idiom in American English.

Although many people may see the day after Thanksgiving negatively, retailers have a very different opinion. It's their best opportunity to improve earnings for the year, and take the business out of the red (loss) and into the black (profit). For example, if sales were slow in the spring, summer, and fall, then the store must attract many customers and make many sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first and most important day of this last chance shopping season is Black Friday.

Of course, there are some people who dislike Black Friday. There are some people who hate the day and its crowds very much. But there are also some people who strongly oppose the shopping day because they believe it harms society. They think that people should consume less and reuse resources more, and so have created a day called "Buy Nothing Day." It falls on the same day as Black Friday, and it encourages people to buy nothing, of course.

However, for most people, Black Friday just presents one more opportunity to go shopping. For those who don't like shopping, then it's one more reason to avoid the stores and shopping malls.

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