The National Retail Federation estimates that 152 million people will have shopped on Black Friday - black because that is the day that merchants will finally make money for the year, because of sales that more than cover their costs for the previous 11 months, and taking them out of the "red."
That's a large number. In comparison, only 131 million workers are currently employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus an additional 10 million to 20 million self-employed workers. Additionally, there will be Internet sales that boost the overall volume.
So, what to make of this past Black Friday? Consumers are not particularly optimistic about the course of the economy and, more important, are not optimistic about their own personal circumstances. The University of Michigan Survey Research Center reports that nearly 50 percent of America's households indicated they were worse off financially than a year ago. Only 25 percent said they were better off. Thirty percent of the respondents who said they are worse off blame lower incomes. An additional 25 percent blames rising prices.