It’s a tradition more than four decades in the making, when serious shoppers and bargain hunters descend on retailers in search of holiday deals.

Black Friday, the official start to the holiday shopping season, got its start in the 1960s and according to, the name came from a time before modern technology, when accounting records were kept by hand. Bookkeepers would use black and red ink to keep their ledgers - red ink indicated deficits and black marked profits. 

Traditionally speaking, shopkeepers would see their profits move from red to black the day after Thanksgiving, hence the name Black Friday.

And this year, area retailers are anticipating the Super Bowl of shopping to draw an extra large crowd, as a year of economic struggle sends Santa’s helpers in search of deals, and fewer gift givers travel to out-of-town destinations in an effort to save on gas.

For shoppers planning to get the most bang for their buck, JC Penney will be the first to open its doors to savings seekers, greeting early morning shoppers with door busters from 4 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday. The retail giant will also offer the longest list of sale items in the store’s history, give away free Disney snow globes (while quantities last) and special bonus coupons for savings from 3-10 p.m.

Wal-Mart SuperCenter manager Gary Smith said shoppers line up for savings in the early morning hours to cash in on advertised specials offered from 5-11 a.m. The featured products can’t be picked up until the sale hours, but Smith said shoppers traditionally stake out the store before the frenzy begins.

“We are a 24-hour store, so unlike other stores, shoppers can come in at any time,” Smith said. “But they can’t get the savings (or certain featured items) until 5 a.m.”

When the clock strikes five, Wal-Mart employees will cut the packaging from pallets stacked with the season’s hot buys, such as toys and electronics.

This year, Smith said store management has developed a strategy that should help those looking for savings on big tickets items like televisions, to grab the goods in a more orderly fashion. Smith said all savings are on a first come, first serve basis with a limited number of units of advertised specials available.

“We are setting up queue lines, where there will be definite lines to certain special deals while other specials will be found in action alley,” Smith said.

Other local early morning hot spots include Hastings, which offers a vast array of books, music, movies and video games.

While Store Manager Tonya Bounds-Vaughn said Wednesday she was not willing to spill the beans on the extra special savings, she did drop a clue on the best deals the store will offer.

“I’m only going to say one word,” Bounds-Vaughn said. “Electronics.”

She said hot items this holiday season include anything related to the “Twilight” series and a fun and fuzzy gift idea is the Snuggie, or blanket with sleeves. Hastings has Snuggies for the humans on your list and your four-legged friends as well.  

An array of gift-giving ideas will also be in stock at Bealls. The store will offer extra savings coupons for an additional 20 percent off any single item, and Black Friday shoppers can also pick up a coupon book for additional savings from Saturday-Dec. 22. Other offers at the department store include early bird specials on clothing, jewelry and gifts from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m., and buy one get one free offers.

Look inside today’s paper for more savings at Game Stop, which will open at 6 a.m.;  Radio Shack, where deals will start at 5:30 a.m.; Dowell Ace Hardware beginning at 7 a.m.; and Tractor Supply Company beginning at 6 a.m. Offers can also be found for CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Staples and Sears.