Can You Buy Things After Midnight On Black Friday, and 5 Other Questions About Shopping's Biggest Day You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask

With the biggest shopping day of the year just around the corner, I know you've been hearing everyone talk nonstop about Black Friday and the deals they hope to snatch up. But it's hard to get excited over something when you don't know what the hell is going on! Can you shop Black Friday after midnight? What happens when I try to return something the first week of December? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.

Everyone just assumes that you already know everything about that infamous day after Thanksgiving, but you might still have some lingering quandaries (like, can you return the goods you grab on Black Friday?) or some questions that you're just too embarrassed to ask (WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY, ANYWAY??!). Well, you can relax and start planning the stores you'll hit with your friends, because you'll find all of the answers to those burning Black Friday questions below!

First and foremost,

1. What the hell is Black Friday?

Hey, that's a valid question! Well, the day after Thanksgiving is commonly referred to as Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers usually offer their lowest prices of the year on everything from designer clothes, electronics, toys, and those knee-high leather boots you've been eyeing. Many stores also offer early bird specials, resulting in tons of people skipping out on Thanksgiving dinner early to score a prime spot on line, where they camp out overnight to get their hands on a bargain.

2. Why is it called Black Friday?

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Consider this one a fun fact you can pull out during a lag in conversation at Thanksgiving dinner. Since many stores report their highest profits on the day after Thanksgiving and they often record their losses in red ink and their profits in black, the term Black Friday is a reference to businesses being "in the black."

3. So, people seriously sleep on sidewalks to score a deal?

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Hey, don't knock it till ya try it. I once slept on a sidewalk to see a Lady Gaga concert — it ain't that bad. So, yes, there are always crowds of shoppers who camp out to score those doorbusters on insanely reduced TVs and laptops. Be warned though, before you start packing your sleeping bag in the car — people wait in these lines overnight because stores only have a limited quantity of many of these crazily discounted items. So it's best to arrive, like, really early if you want a chance at getting one.

4. Uh, do I have to campout all night or do stores offer deals online?

No need to get up from your couch after eating all that turkey! Many stores are also offering some crazy deals on their websites on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving, on which online discounts typically crop up) — or through the entire weekend. You can check out some of the top Cyber Monday deals and start staking your claims here and here.

5. Okay, so I'm assuming the fitting rooms on Black Friday are going to be a hot mess. What if you need to return something that you bought at the Black Friday price?

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A very good question! I, for one, want to be nowhere near the Macy's dressing rooms when that fateful day rolls around. Each store has their own policy regarding returns, and many differ from the return policy they usually have during other (less crazy) times of the year. Here's a list of Black Friday return policies for some major retailers, but don't be afraid to reach out to your favorite store to make sure you won't be stuck with an ill-fitting cashmere sweater come Saturday.

6. Call me crazy, but I really don't want to miss out on time with my family to shop. Can you still get Black Friday deals after midnight?

Totally understandable and totally possible! Because of how lucrative Black Friday sales tend to be, many retailers have extended their sales all weekend long. Sephora is offering deals all of Thanksgiving weekend, and Macy's is famous for its annual "Super Saturday Sale."

And now you know all there is to know about Black Friday. Congratulations! Now go forth and shop, little one.

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