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Originally published November 23, 2011 at 6:37 PM | Page modified November 23, 2011 at 6:54 PM

The meaning of Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, kicks off the holiday shopping season. Retailers open their doors early each year and offer shoppers deals of up to 70 percent off on everything from electronics to clothes. And shoppers typically turn out in droves.

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NEW YORK — The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, kicks off the holiday shopping season. Retailers open their doors early each year and offer shoppers deals of up to 70 percent off on everything from electronics to clothes. And shoppers typically turn out in droves.

Before you head out to the stores, a few things you should know about Black Friday:

Q: How did the day

get its name?

A: Accounts differ on the origin of the term. One theory is that it had roots in the 1960s in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy pedestrian and car traffic on the day after Thanksgiving. The most common theory, though, is that the day got its name because it's usually when retailers turn a profit for the year, or operate in the "black."

Q. Is Black Friday the biggest shopping day of the year?

A. ShopperTrak, which monitors customer traffic and sales at 25,000 stores nationwide, says Black Friday has been the top sales day every year but one since it started monitoring holiday data in 2002; the only exception was in 2004, when the busiest day was the Saturday before Christmas.

Q. Will you get the best deals of the season on Black Friday?

A. Not necessarily. Stores have similar discounts throughout the holiday season. And even better deals can be had after Christmas Day. The problem: If you wait too long, you might not get exactly what you want since stores have kept inventories lean this year.

Q: Do I have to stand in a long line to get good deals?

A: No, many Black Friday deals are available online as well.

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