Published On: Nov 17 2011 02:14:10 PM CSTUpdated On: Nov 16 2012 02:08:16 PM CST
The term "Black Friday" was originally used to describe the Sept. 24, 1864, stock market panic set off by plunging gold prices.
However, as early as the 19th century, shoppers have viewed Thanksgiving as the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, an occasion marked by celebrations and sales.
The holiday spree became so important to retailers that during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up to stretch out the holiday shopping season.
Newspapers in Philadelphia officially coined the term "Black Friday" in the late 1960s, using it to describe the rush of crowds at stores. There's also a belief that some retailers go from "in the red" to "in the black" for the year on that day.
As in years past, Target, Kmart and some other stores are coming under fire for opening their doors on Thanksgiving. Some employees say they'd rather spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family, not at work.
Toy superstore Toys R Us is again among the earliest stores to open its doors to shoppers on Black Friday, or as it should be known now "Black Thanksgiving," announcing plans to open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, kept with its hours from last year. Doors will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Sears moved its shopping hours up to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
In perhaps the biggest change in Black Friday hours, Kmart announced plans to open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Target is also opening its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year. That's two hours earlier than last year.
Best Buy pushed its holiday shopping hours up an hour this year, announcing plans to open its doors at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Macy's, which opened all of its 800-plus Macy’s stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year, is moving to 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Kohl's is also moving up its hours to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving in 2014.
Minnesota's Mall of America, billed as the nation's largest mall, will open to shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Nordstrom is making headlines as one of the few stores that will keep its doors closed on Thanksgiving, along with Costco, Marshalls, Dillard's, Pier 1 and others. They plan to open early on Black Friday.
After a turbulent start to 2014, the National Retail Federation says it expects sales in November and December to increase by a healthy 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame.
A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. That's up from about 226 million the year before.
The average American spent $407 on Black Friday in 2013, with overall sales reaching an estimated $57.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Recent years have seen a marked increase in extreme chaos as people rush into stores to grab merchandise. In 2008, a Walmart employee in New York was trampled to death.