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Retailers hope sales put them in 'the black'

Why do they call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday? And when did it start? I don't remember ever hearing that term as a kid. Did I miss something or am I just getting long of tooth like my husband?

— M.F., Jacksonville

Not wanting to be saddled with the repercussions of upsetting your marital bliss, we at the SYA Corral are going to refrain from commenting on the age of your hubby, although your last question was most definitely a gift horse.

We suspect neither of you were out buying socks before the sun was up on the recent Black Friday ... but we digress.

As for Black Friday, the moniker has been in vogue for a couple of decades to describe the day when hordes of shoppers help push retailers into profitability, or "the black." Of course, given the economic woes of this year, Black Friday may be a little later for some businesses.

Although there are some who question whether it is the busiest shopping day of the year, most agree it is definitely one of the busiest. The last days before Christmas also are busy thanks to procrastinating shoppers.

ShopperTrak, a research firm that tracks sales and traffic at more than 50,000 stores, recently told The Associated Press that Black Friday has been the top sales day every year but one since it started monitoring holiday data in 2002. The exception was in 2004, when the Saturday before Christmas was the busiest, according to ShopperTrak.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.