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The Lines Await

Registers ringing, credit cards swiping, wallets whining, and parents sighing are sounds that echo through the stores. This is the joy of holiday shopping. Every year shoppers swarm the department stores and battle it out for the best deals on the items that top their gift list.

Extended hours and sales galore draw shoppers to the stores at all hours. Erin Cunningham, a junior, said, “I went shopping a few times on Black Friday, but it is so out of control. I don’t feel like the madness and long lines are worth the discounts. If I do go, it is usually later in the day when all the craziness has settled.”

Holiday shopping estimates for the 2011 season project that each person will spend $403 on gifts for family members, according to National Retail Federation (NRF). The total spending on holiday items is estimated at $704 per person, which also includes gifts for friends, pets, decorations, and various other items. Last year, shoppers spent a reported $45 billion on Black Friday, according to a report from the NRF.

Out of the estimated 212 million shoppers, the amount breaks down to $365 per person this year, some stores are opening even earlier to get shoppers to spend money in their store first. Target, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Best Buy will open at 12:00 am before many other stores to get a head start on profits. Other stores, such as Sears and JC Penney, are opening at 4:00 am.

In a Wall Street Journal article, some retail employees expressed their unhappiness about the midnight openings. Many will need to sleep before going to work and the hours will cut into their Thanksgiving holiday time with family.

Black Friday officially got its name in the 1960s and the meaning of the term has changed since it was first used to describe the day after Thanksgiving. Originally, a Philadelphia newspaper used the term Black Friday to describe the overwhelming amount of shoppers kicking off the holiday-shopping season, according to Time. Presently, its meaning suggests that retailers begin to show a profit for the first time during the year. Accountants also refer to “black” when a company shows profit as opposed to the red when a company is in the negative. In the past, Black Friday did not have such a positive connotation. On Sept. 24, 1864, gold prices dropped severely causing a panic over the stock market, according to Time. offers tips for shoppers to make the most of their experience. It suggests for shoppers to do their research, compare prices, know the stores policies, and bring the advertisements with them. Hoping to get an early bird special? Be there early or go on Thanksgiving night. There are many sites online that list the store’s discount items, store hours, and specials. Prioritizing the most wanted items and going there first is a best bet.

One University student completely avoids shopping on Black Friday. “It’s so crowded and hectic,” said Lauren Cane, a sophomore. “I can’t do my shopping then because you can never get exactly what you want since everyone is trying to fight for the same things.”