Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the 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 as many workers have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday, this 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.
The term "Black Friday" may have originated in Philadelphia, where was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. (see Origin of the name "Black Friday" below). 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). (From: Wikipedia, license: CCA-SA)