The day after Thanksgiving, also commonly known as "Black Friday," is famous for frenzied shopping, door crasher sales and throngs of people out to save money on holiday gifts. This holiday took its name from the accounting term "in the black," which means that a company is earning a profit. In the past, Black Friday sales have largely been the domain of the big box stores, but recent years have seen all sorts of retailers attempting to take part in the tradition. The growing tradition has spread from the top online retailers, all the way down to the tiny mom and pop shops; there have even been second-hand stores trying to get in on the action. Considering the economic fluctuations over the past few years and a notable shift in the way consumers shop, it's interesting to consider which retailers have fared well, in recent years.

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The fact that this retail giant made the list of Black Friday's top earners isn't likely to surprise anyone. However, 2010 actually saw some of the higher-end department stores beating out the discount retailers. Despite this trend, Walmart still saw a 30% increase in traffic from 2009, and their website drew the second highest volume of traffic on Black Friday, 2010.

Part of Walmart's success on Black Friday comes from the fact that Walmart offers a wide range of products that appeal to the Black Friday shopper's desires. Electronic items and toys tend to be among the top selling items on Black Friday, and Walmart offers products from both categories. Some other discount retailers that did well in Black Friday sales include Dollar General and Dollar Tree. (For ways to manage your holiday budget, read 8 Tips To Help You Control Holiday Spending.)

As consumer confidence appeared to have improved between 2009 and 2010, stores like Macy's topped discount retailers in Black Friday sales. Black Friday tends to be a popular time for sales of pricier items like jewelry, toys and electronics, which could account for some of the mid-range department stores doing so well. Additionally, Black Friday 2010 saw shoppers return to buying gifts for themselves, so perhaps some shoppers were looking to purchase higher-end items to treat themselves. Other similar department stores that did well on Black Friday last year include JC Penney and Kohl's.

Best Buy
Best Buy has traditionally drawn huge Black Friday crowds with their door-crashing specials and discount prices on electronic items. Though Best Buy reported softer than anticipated sales for the last quarter of 2010, Black Friday still saw a huge flow of traffic on this electronic retailer's website and to their brick and mortar retail stores, proving once again that electronics are a hot seller on Black Friday. Among the most popular electronic items purchased on Black Friday 2010 were televisions, Blu-ray players, e-readers and detachable camera lenses, while computers and point-and-shoot cameras were less popular choices.
Online shopping accounted for roughly one third of all the shopping activity on Black Friday in 2010 and a hefty $648 million in sales. Given that statistic, it's no surprise that the popular online retailer did exceptionally well. It's website drew the highest volume of traffic, more than the sites of Walmart, Target, Best Buy and JC Penney, which round out the top five most visited sites by Black Friday shoppers. Tech-savvy shoppers appear to have moved to the web to take part in the Black Friday savings, which is likely much more appealing for those who don't enjoy the chaotic shopping environment that's often part of this notorious shopping day.

Since offers many of the most-popular items that Black Friday shoppers are purchasing, such as electronic items, toys and books, this can help to account for the high volumes of traffic and sales for this online retailer. However, clothing was actually the top seller when it came to online shopping in 2010. (Be mindful of the hazards of online shopping and read 5 Pitfalls Of Online Shopping.)

Through a combination of online and retail sales, Apple has also done well in Black Friday earnings, once again, because of consumers' interest in obtaining high-priced electronic goods at discount prices. Also of interest, and related to Apple's iPhone, many apps were offered at discount prices on Black Friday, extending the Black Friday savings to less tangible electronic items.

The Bottom Line
All kinds of retailers do well on Black Friday, it just depends on how much retailers want to slash their prices. If a store is selling items that are in high demand, at prices that are too low to pass up, the consumers are sure to come. The big box stores tend to get the most attention, and perhaps can offer the lowest prices, due to high volumes of traffic and sales. This is certainly the case with Walmart, which has been able to offer Black Friday sales on electronic items at lower prices than many competitors.

However, Black Friday shopping is not for the faint of heart. Heavily advertised sales result in crowded stores, with longer lines at the cash register. Those who try to avoid the Black Friday craziness are taking to the internet to enjoy excellent deals, or perhaps some individuals are saving their shopping dollars for later in the season, when retailers may reduce prices even further to meet projected sales targets. When it comes to Black Friday, a few rules always seem to ring true. Expensive items like jewelry or electronics are almost always big sellers, and so are items that are popular with kids and teens including toys, brand-name clothing and whatever the hottest high-tech gadgets are today.

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