In recent years, the biggest story of Thanksgiving week has been “Black Friday.”
That’s the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season when crazy people line up at crazy hours to go into stores that open at crazy hours to take advantage of crazy discounts.
Last year, the National Retail Federation estimated that more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend with total sales reaching $41 billion – and that was in the midst of the unfolding financial crisis and recession. The 2008 holiday shopping season went on to become one of the weakest in decades.
So, here we are a year later. The S&P 500 is up about 25% in 2009; the economy grew in the third quarter; and by some measures, consumers have shown signs of life. Still, the jobs situation is pretty bleak, so retailers everywhere are curious to see how much people will spend this season. Black Friday is considered a good barometer.