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While Black Friday has been regarded as the most popular shopping day of the holiday season for the last decade, it hasn't always been the case.
Since 2005, Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - has consistently been the number one shopping day, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers. From 1997 to 2002, Black Friday didn't crack the top three most popular shopping days.
Black Friday became the most popular day to shop in 2003, with a slight dip to number two in 2004, but has reigned triumphant every year since the mid-2000s.
In years prior, the Saturday before Christmas, known as Super Saturday among retailers, claimed the most popular spot.
This could have occurred for a few reasons, said McDaniel College associate professor of economics Kevin McIntyre.
The mid-2000s were in between the collapse of the dot-com bubble and prior to the Great Recession. The late 1990s and early 2000s had a very consumer-driven economy, which began tailing off around 2004, he said. Household income and wealth took a hit around 2007, and since then, median income has remained flat, he said.
Since the recession, however, advertising for Black Friday has become more aggressive, and has even crept toward Gray Thursday, the day of Thanksgiving. This year, Walmart will open as early as 6 p.m., and TownMall of Westminster will be open by 8 p.m.
"It's my sense that the more aggressive advertising we get, that probably reflects the low average state of the economy," McIntyre said.
The greater push from advertisers also began when e-commerce became ingrained in the culture of shopping, he said. An Accenture survey from October estimates about 47 percent of consumers will shop online this holiday season for gifts.
The super deals can take someone away from the computer screen and into the stores, he said.
The economy isn't entirely to blame for Black Friday's popularity, though - 2005 and 2006 proved to be especially good years for the economy.
"My sense on things is that Black Friday has almost become a cultural phenomenon," McIntyre said.
So when did the day after Thanksgiving become synonymous with big deals?
There's a common story that Black Friday got its name for being the day where many retailers would finally turn a profit for the year, or get into the black. While that is true, the actual name may have come from local police in Philadelphia calling the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday" because of horrific traffic, chair of the American Dialect Society's New Words Committee Ben Zimmer found from previous articles.
The name caught on, though retailers began referring to the commonly known origin in the 1980s, according to Zimmer.
Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the ICSC, said there has been a larger push in recent years from retailers on Black Friday.
"Deals and sales have become synonymous with Black Friday, that's why you see huge customer traffic," he said.
This year, the extra push from both consumers and retailers can be attributed to fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tron said.
McIntyre said Black Friday is becoming ingrained in the American landscape now.
"Black Friday it seems it's almost become a tradition now. It's like turkey on Thanksgiving and watching football in the afternoon and go to Walmart on Friday," he said.

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