Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.
Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employees have the day off, which increases the number of potential shoppers. Retailers often decorate for the Christmas season weeks beforehand. Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term “Black Friday” has been traced back only to the 1960s.
The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit). Black Friday has always been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic and in terms of actual sales volume.
In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside, the stores shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have only a few of the big draw items. On occasion, injuries and even fatalities are reported; this year (2008), despite the economical crisis which has been reflected on shopping rates, a worker at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York was trampled to death by shoppers who broke through the store’s glass doors minutes before the store’s scheduled opening at 5:00 am; a pregnant mother was hospitalized from injuries in the same human “stampede”, and in California, two people shot each other after arguing over an item in a Toys R Us store.