Once known as the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday may no longer be as big a day but some retailers still heavily rely on it. Shoppers flock to stores to find the best deals the day after Thanksgiving.

“Black Friday’s a good indicator of foot traffic, but it’s losing a little bit of relevance for total holiday sales, because there are so many different ways to shop,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld, Inc., a business intelligence publisher.

Online sales continue to jump, although some say the Monday after Thanksgiving is the day for this because people go back to work. They call it Cyber Monday. Even if you’ve got a job where you can’t leave your desk, you can place an order online. But Black Friday still beats Cyber Monday. Maybe someday there will be a nickname for every day of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Super Saturday is already taken – that’s the Saturday before Christmas.

Or the government will sell rights to name a day after an advertiser to help pay off the huge national debt. Can you imagine how much a federal declaration to name Saturday after Thanksgiving could generate? But I digress…

Two years ago Business Week ran an article saying Cyber Monday’s all hype, created by retailers to get people to shop. Regardless of which day makes retailers richer, we can all agree that the holiday shopping season is the most lucrative.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales of $474.5 billion this year. That’s a modest (3.7 percent) increase from last year, when sales reached $457.4 billion. What’s changed? Consumers have less disposable income with declining home values and adjustable rate mortgages going up. Toy sales may be adversely impacted by all the recent toy recalls.

Apparel retailers seem to have steady sales, said Van Horn. “They’re in a good position” both online and in stores, he said. “People are going back to buying the basics.”

On another note, many Black Friday spoiler Web sites have already made their debut.

Check out www.cybermonday.com/

Personally, I like to shop through Web sites that give you air miles for your purchases. United has mponlinemall.com and American has a Retail and Gifts section under Partners and Mileage Programs. They feature many of the same retailers you might go to anyway and this way you get more for your money. If you make a habit of this you’ll see miles rack up fast and you won’t have to worry about your miles expiring as quickly, especially if you only travel a few times a year. And you don’t have to get an airline credit card, which may have a really high interest rate.

Some retailers have early sales, perhaps for the shoppers who can’t stand crowds.

Be sure to tune into Clark Howard’s radio show from 1pm to 4pm EST on Black Friday – Ilyce Glink will be hosting and announcing her annual Deals of the Day. The show airs on Atlanta’s News Talk Radio AM 750 WSB radio and you can listen online.

Ilyce will also be hosting tomorrow from 1pm to 4pm EST.

Here’s the link: wsbradio.com/about_us/ilyce_glink.html

Click on Listen live! above Ilyce’s bio.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov. 20, 2007.