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What is Black Friday?

Thanksgiving marks the starting point for many traditions. Many people decorate for the holidays during the weekend. Radio stations start pumping out X-mass music. College football rivalries heat up. And retailers sound the opening of the holiday shopping season.

        Black Friday is the initial consumer call-to-arms of the season. Shoppers are enticed by huge price reductions to brave predawn store openings, long lines, and freezing weather. Often, stores lose money on the most highly sought after items. Retailers hope that customers will spend additional money once in the store, making up for the loss.

                To have a chance at purchasing big ticket items, consumers have to line up hours before stores open, which is traditionally around 5am. It is not uncommon for people to spend 12 hours in line and they often set up folding chairs and sometime tents.

        People often make the mistake of claiming that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. But most shoppers tend to procrastinate and the busiest day is usually the Saturday or Sunday before Christmas.

Historically the term "Black Friday" has been used by policemen, bus drivers, and other public servants to describe the horrific traffic that is caused by mobbing shoppers. However, more recently the term has been used to describe the push of retailers to get "into the black," or to start turning a profit for that financial quarter.