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Kimberly Amadeo

Why Is Black Friday Important (and Where Are the Sales?)

By November 23, 2009

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This year, Black Friday is especially important. It will signal whether the recession will continue to hurt retailers, since 18% of retail sales occur from Black Friday through Christmas. This year, the National Retail Federation is projecting a 1% decline, which is up a bit from last year's drop of 3.4%.

The name "Black Friday" is from accounting, which uses black to signal profit and red to signal loss. Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930's. In fact, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week during the Great Depression because retailers wanted an extra week of shopping revenue. This pleased retailers, but irritated shoppers, who had to change plans.

What It Means to You

Black Friday is also a great day to get what you want for discounted prices. To find out where the best sales are, I've compiled the best resources from other About.com guides in this article: How to Find Black Friday Sales and Deals

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(Photo Credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

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November 24, 2009 at 4:54 pm
(1) John Russell says:

This year I have noticed that it’s the retailers that moved up their sales. I have seen many retailers locally already having black friday sales. Not to mention that thanksgiving items were difficult to find because most retailers had skipped straight ahead to Christmas.

November 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm
(2) useconomy says:

That’s very interesting. I think retailers are very nervous. I hear from my commercial real estate friends that a lot of even good retailers are on the edge. This holiday season may make the difference between staying in business or bankruptcy.

If you want to support your local community and local jobs, buy local!


December 1, 2009 at 11:41 am
(3) Jim Wygand says:

What we should conclude from the relatively weak Black Friday sales is that consumption will not be the driver it was in the pre-recession economy. Unemployment remains high (17.5% according to the broad definition), incomes and asset values have declined, individuals are saving more and retiring expensive debt, and that is all good when viewed in the context of the increases in business orders for equipment, computers, etc. Those are all productivity-enhancing products the benefits from which are further down the road. The US economy has to go through a MAJOR restructuring, become more competitive at making “stuff”, and put people back to work. Retailers and consumer goods producers might have to deal with lower margins and volumes in the near future. The principal driver of the US economy over the medium term will be investment, not consumption.

December 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm
(4) useconomy says:

Hi Jim,

I agree that the economy is undergoing a major restructuring, and that people retiring their debt is a necessary, though painful for retailers, part of that.

However, consumption still drives the bus. At the end of the day, manufacturers must have someone to buy their stuff so they can make more.

I think this is part of the reason Obama is pushing green technology. Government stimulus is creating demand in a new area, to encourage people to retrofit and buy green stuff, made by government-subsidized U.S. businesses.


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