"I've already been at this two hours and I've only had to gouge one person's eyes out!"
But Actually ...
Actually, Black Friday wasn't the biggest shopping day of the year until the advent of online shopping. Before that, it was rarely even in the top five.
So why was the media paying so much attention to the fifth-biggest shopping day of the year? Well, partially because it's a slow news day. With most people off from work and spending time at home with their family, the media has a captive audience and approximately nothing to talk about. So they began reporting on the one sector of the economy that was actually working (instead of pretending to work while totally mailing it in, like the media).
"I'll be honest, guys, I'm not even sure what city this is."
Of course, stories about how everyone's out spending money weren't drawing complaints from the advertisers.
Black Friday finally did become the top revenue earner in 2003 by giving people who would rather stay home with their family a way to get at the deals. Weirdly, 2003 was right around when the media started reporting the idea that Black Friday was in trouble, and telling us about new players in the game like Cyber Monday -- the Monday after Thanksgiving, when online sales (or "cyber sales," as they're called by absolutely no one) supposedly spike.