She is not American and wonders what Black Friday is...And while they seem to know what the crazy Americans do on that day, I hear our Canuks are glad they don't have it. I prefer to particiate from my couch, laptop and coffee in hand but give in and take my Dad out each year now. So for Miss Aneke, courtesy of Wiki, here you go...
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. The term dates back to at least 1966, although its usage was primarily on the East coast. The term has become more common in other parts of the country since 2000. Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November. According to Reuters, in 2007 135 million people participated in the Black Friday shopping rush.
Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday (with the exceptions of those employed in retailing, health care, and banking), which increases the number of potential shoppers. Retailers often decorate for the Christmas and holiday season weeks beforehand. Many retailers open extremely early, with most of the retailers typically opening at 5AM or even earlier. Some of the larger retailers (depending on the location) such as Sears, Best Buy, Macy's, Toys "R" Us, and Walmart have been reported to open as early as midnight on the start of Black Friday in localized areas and remain open for 24 hours throughout the day until midnight the following Saturday. Upon opening, retailers 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.
More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).
The news media frequently refers to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic, in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was usually the fifth to tenth busiest day. In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second place, and in 2003 and 2005, Black Friday actually did reach first place. The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of both sales and customer traffic) usually has been the Saturday before Christmas.
In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up for 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. On Friday, November 28, 2008, Jdimytai Damour, 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 a.m.; a pregnant mother was hospitalized from injuries in the same human "stampede", though early reports of a resultant miscarriage were determined to be in error. On that same day, two people in Palm Desert, California were shot and killed in a Toys R Us store during an argument
Electronics and popular toys are often the most sought-after items and may be sharply discounted. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often will cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began lining up at various stores and providing video of the shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items. Traditionally Black Friday sales were intended for those shopping for Christmas gifts. For some particularly popular items, some people shop at these sales in order to get deep discounts on items they can then resell, typically online.
In an attempt to draw attention to the negatives associated with a consumerist lifestyle, this day has also been used for activities such as Buy Nothing Day.
Many retailers close to Canada frequently attract cross-border traffic, so in 2009 a number of major Canadian retailers had their own Black Friday promotions in order to discourage shoppers from leaving for the US.. Canada's Boxing Day has often been compared to Black Friday in terms of retailer impact and consumerism.