But it wasn't always this way. Despite the day after Thanksgiving's historical significance as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, NRF's Butler said that it wasn't until the '50s and '60s when retailers started to use Black Friday as the first day they'd put their fall goods on sale.
While that may not seem like such a big deal today, when sales happen year-round, "I remember people waiting for things to go on sale," Butler said.
"It really became ingrained in peoples' mind that it was a great day to get value."
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Although Black Friday still delivers steep discounts, they often aren't what's driving shoppers to the stores anymore, Steinman said. Instead, many see the event as a tradition, and a way to spend time with family.
He added that as Black Friday evolves to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, this will likely continue to drive the motivation behind Black Friday shopping.
"For many consumers, it can be viewed from the lens of nostalgia," Steinman said. "I believe this is why many consumers are venturing to the stores to shop on Black Friday even though the deals may not be [as good] as they once were."