This is a traditional “go crazy” day for Christmas shoppers who want to get bargains and maybe wrap up their gift shopping early.  But it’s not important for shoppers only.

“Black Friday” once was a reference to the 1869 stock market catastrophe.  But in the 1960s, Philadelphia police and eventually, merchants, started using the term for the first big shopping day of the Christmas season.  It spread from there. It has been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2003, except for 2004, when it slipped to second.

Missouri Retailers Association President David Overfelt says this is a critical day for retailers, especially for specialty shops.  .

Economists think as many as 147-milion people will be in the stores today although Overfelt wonders if the early store openings yesterday and last night will reduce those numbers–probably not noticeably if you’re among the mobs.

Overfelt expects electronic toys and equipment to be hot items again this year–although, he says, traditional toys such as Barbie Dolls and Sesame Street characters are always favorites.

AUDIO: Overfelt interview 11:49