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They don't lose money on Black Friday. In fact, they make a tremendous amount of money. That's why it's "black" -- going from red (negative earnings) to black. This is because they sell the products at a low price, but they're still profiting.

Also, retailers gain loyalty from low prices, rather than lose it.

This. I think the perception is that the avatar of the typical Black Friday shopper is the people who wait 12 hours in line to get in a fight over TVs at WalMart. Truth is, most of the sales occur during the day on Friday from fairly normal people.

(I think this is similar to the idea that all iPhone users must be hipster iSheep)

The only reason they make money, is simply they are adding more days to the "retail calendar." Those loss leaders are still getting traffic through the door when there use to be none. Something is greater than zero.

The problem is that the loss leaders go on sale at some ridiculous hour (I'm not waking up to go shopping at 5am when there's a big crowd). Unless you're willing to get up very early for cheap stuff, the shelves will be picked clean.

Not true. Many retailers have their Black Friday deals online as well. The only difficult thing about getting the loss leaders is timing the purchase before the supply runs out.

This isn't true. Look at a sales graph for the US retail sector. There's a huge spike on Black Friday, and there's generally a big rise in activity through November and December.

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