Now Is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of the Economy

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Now is the time for all good men, and women, to come to the aid of the economy.

Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, which actually started yesterday.

The start of next week is Cyber Monday, when we're expected to do it all again, but from our desks, when the boss isn't looking.

Both holidays -- in fact, this whole shopping frenzy -- owe much to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed the bill making the fourth Thursday in each month Thanksgiving in 1941. But he'd made his intent clear two years before, when he tried to move the day back a week, to the third Thursday, in order to extend the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday is now expanding beyond retailing. Hotels are offering special deals. Some want you to spend the night by the mall. Others want to take your Christmas season travel money early.

Some of the plushest hotels in the country are jumping on this train, aiming to fill rooms that often go empty during January and February at prices as low as $199 a night.

Politics may have given us Black Friday, but it was market research that created Cyber Monday.

The term dates back to only 2005, and comes from Shop.org, the National Retail Federation's digital division, based on analysis of 2004 shopping patterns showing many people used broadband at work for Christmas shopping during the first week of December.

Now it's measured rigorously by comScore, as a measurement of online shopping strength. In 2006 it was estimated that $610 million was spent on Cyber Monday. The official estimate for this year is $1.8 billion, which would mark a double-digit increase from 2012.

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