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Black Friday: Insanity or Opportunity?

Black Friday: Insanity or Opportunity?

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is well known for its killer deals on everything from baby dolls to laptops. 

The name “Black Friday” refers to the 1960s when store losses were marked in red ink and profits in black. Thus, the day gives retailers a chance to turn a profit and get “in the black.” Another theory is that the police who had to monitor the streets during 1960s post-thanksgiving sales deemed it a black Friday due to the chaos associated with large crowds. 

While the term was coined in the 1960s, Black Friday gained popularity throughout the 90s and reached a fevered pitch in the past few years. The day became so notorious that stores were losing the ability to control their Black Friday shoppers. In 2008 a Walmart employee was trampled to death at a New York store and a dispute at a California Toys R Us turned violent when two shoppers were shot. 

Still, shoppers are expected to spend over $40 billion this holiday weekend, with over 134 million shoppers hitting the stores. Many stores are opening on Thanksgiving or hosting “early bird” specials in the wee hours of Friday morning to try to manage the massive crowds. 

For those, like me, who prefer to shop from the comfort of their living room, there’s Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday, a day for online deals, is less popular than its in-store counterpart, but it has only been around since 2005, when The National Retail Federation began promoting it.

Shoppers can plan their Friday in a plethora of different ways. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart are posting sneak peeks on their websites to entice customers to spend, either in store or online. Gizmodo has a massive cheat sheet for all deals technology related. Thedealmap.com allows shoppers to search specific products or regions of the country and see those products displayed on a map. 

With Facebook now integrated with many websites, users can “like” a deal and share it with their friends in just a few clicks. There are over 20 iPhone shopping apps available for Black Friday alone. 

Despite all the attention that Black Friday and Cyber Monday garner, neither day is the biggest moneymaker for stores. That honor goes to December 24th.

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Photo thanks to tim parkinson

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78 comments

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9:59PM PST on Nov 28, 2013

Those who shop on black friday should be ashamed. Despite the extremely negative historical aspects to the origin of Thanksgiving, it is supposed to be a time to celebrate family, friends, and to be thankful for all that you have and have had the opportunity to do. It is not the time to be preparing to partake in the mass consumerism fueled by greed that is the essence of Black Friday. It seems as if people are either ignorant or just choosing to ignore what their actions are saying to the world and are saying about themselves and their values.

12:31PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

It is sickening to see the mind set over giving Christmas gifts! The whole thing is based on greed not love, hope and charity!

12:29PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

The actions of so many people on so called Black Friday is appalling! I have never shopped on that day for any reason and never will!

1:34PM PST on Dec 7, 2010

We try to keep our Yule simple - no frenzied loading down of physical or virtual shopping carts. We get token gifts for my parents and my sister and b-i-l (usually baked goods), one nice plaything for the younger kids, and for my college student daughter, we make a payment on one of her monthly bills. No insane rushing from store to store, no dealing with overloaded servers crashing.

5:37PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

A little of both!

9:32PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

I plan to NEVER shop on Black Friday again...it's mass consumerism at its worst...

5:06PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

Bad editing - scrap the word 'need' in first sentence.

5:05PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

I think people with this 'Shop Till You Drop' have need mental issues and should seek pyschiatric help immediately, before the planet goes under due to this insane, never-ending shopping spree mania that has gripped the world.

Go to Vinnie's, buy locally, freecycle and recycle. Most importantly get over your obsessive need to have every new gadget with its deliberately planned obsolescence that is quickly going to end up in landfill and choke the environement beyond repair.

There is life after shopping - enjoy!

11:55AM PST on Nov 29, 2010

I have a very short Christmas list which I will buy all online.
Beautiful and unusual coats for each of my two children: one bought used from eBay, one will be ordered from Britain.
A used DVD, a just released CD, a rare comic book, and a pair of unusual gloves – all bought online.
That’s it. In about half an hour on the Internet my shopping will be done. Ta Da!

7:07PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

thanks for the article.

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