Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day, marks the frantic beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, major retailers open early in the morning, offering promotional sales and deep discounts. The effect: thousands willing to line-up and push their way through crowds at the chance to get the best deals of the year. Shockingly, shoppers have been so fierce that some have even been trampled to death during the openings.
While the name "Black Friday" is often believed to originate from the day when retailers turned from unprofitable (red) to profitable (black), it was actually first coined in Philadelphia nearly half a century ago. The Philadelphia police department used it to describe the misery of the day's crowd and subsequent traffic jam – a seemingly more fitting description.
The real mystery now is how will Black Friday stack up against past years? Analysts are expecting one of the most busiest Fridays after Thanksgiving in years. Which is a relief to retailers, who saw slow Black Fridays during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009.
While Black Friday is a major influence on retail performance, it is "Cyber Monday" – the Monday of online shopping when employees return to work – that has become a new barometer of retail performance.
So before you choose to spend your holiday dollars this year, take time to familiarize yourself with Black Friday in photos.
Editor's note: Photos will be updated as 2011 images are filed.