Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Black Friday But Were Afraid To Ask

Tomorrow marks the observance of Black Friday in the United States, a day when many Americans will collectively lose their minds (check out this YouTube video). Black Friday is an informal name for the day after Thanksgiving when many retailers will post intriguing sales on hot products to kick off the Christmas shopping season. It is a public holiday in more than 20 states, and many businesses will be closed, though not everyone will enjoy that benefit.

Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days in the United States, if not the busiest. The term “Black Friday” is derived from the days before computers when businesses still did their accounting in written ledgers. Additions and gains to the accounts were written in black, while subtractions and losses were written in red (also the genesis of the terms “black ink” and “red ink”), and since the day was so profitable, there were big numbers written in black ink on those ledgers, hence the name.

Due to the opportunity for substantial profits, many retailers are open on Black Friday, and retail employees must brace themselves for the mad rush of customers that pour into stores the moment they open, leaving many of those employees feeling like extras in Dawn of the Dead. According to Money, about 23 percent of all American shoppers will visit a retail location on Black Friday, even though most of them know that Black Friday doesn’t necessarily have the best deals anymore. Even the tech-savvy younger generation, who one might assume is more likely to participate in Black Friday sales online, are consumed by the mania. A staggering 42 percent of shoppers aged 18-22 participate in the Black Friday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, much higher than the overall national average.

“They want to experience the excitement of the event firsthand,” says Lindsay Sakraida, the Director of Content Marketing at DealNews.com. The site polled people at Target to see if they were there for specific items, but found that the vast majority were not. “They just wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” she says.

“You might look at the Black Friday crowds and feel bad that they’re that desperate for a bargain,” says Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist. “That’s not it at all. They’re excited about this day. It’s a group activity. This is fun with friends.”

In recent times, retailers have engaged in “Christmas creep,” in which deals that in the past might have been confined to Black Friday are now being floated in September and October. Even Black Friday itself is starting earlier, with many retailers opening their doors to Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving.