The StockMarket Game is a curriculum-based teaching tool that allowsstudents to invest a hypothetical $100,000 online stock portfolio tolearn about long-term saving and investing.

Dear teachers and Stock Market Game participants, the SMG Week in Review is coming to you early this week in light of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Clearly the hot topic this week is Black Friday. Under "normal" or happier financial circumstances, it marks the unofficial start of the frenzied holiday shopping season and the projected launch of the year-end rally.

Unfortunately, it feels as though someone has canceled Christmas this year as we head into "Bleak Friday" with an abysmal economy, surging unemployment and daily announcements of companies declaring bankruptcy or in need of a bailout.

To make matters worse, with Thanksgiving coming late this year, we have even fewer shopping days this holiday season. Few retailers are feeling particularly festive.

Black Friday originally received its name in the 1960s, and the term was derived from the old accounting practice of using red ink for debts and black ink for profits. While no one can predict with certainty what the stock market will do on any given day, forecasting a gain on the day after Thanksgiving has been a safe bet in years past.

Investors tend to be well rested (from their post turkey coma) and often express it by bidding up share prices upon their return. Stores also offer big deals to woo the gift-buying public to open their wallets.

But this year may be a bit different as there doesn't seem to be a consensus on whether a year-end rally will actually happen. Many analysts are referring to Black Friday as "do or die" time for many retailers, as it could mark the beginning of the end.

Even high-end stores like

Saks

(SKS)

and

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

are succumbing to the pressure by offering "private sales" to the masses. Private sales are normally reserved for preferred customers.

T.J. Maxx

(TJX) - Get Report

and Marshall's have brought back their layaway plans and

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

is matching advertised toy prices from any rival establishment.

But don't discount a visit from Rudolph and his gang just yet. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, lower gasoline prices and pent-up demand may provide a small silver lining for the suffering retail industry this holiday season. Up to 128 million people said they will shop on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after Thanksgiving, down from 135 million last year.

Despite the decline, NRF called the number a "welcome surprise" after months of weak retail sales. For those of you who will be doing your part in boosting the economy by opening your wallets at the end of this week, be sure to check out www.bfads.net and www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com to preview the holiday bargains. Happy shopping!

As a final reminder, don't forget to submit your InvestWrite essays by Friday, Dec. 5. Not only does the program serve as a great culminating activity for The Stock Market Game, your students have the opportunity to earn great prizes for their efforts. Good luck to all submitting essays!

This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.