For some, the thought of grabbing the best bargains of the year can set the pulse racing; for others, the notion that the day after our national Thanksgiving should be dedicated to shopping is offensive. We can't agree on how the day got its name, much less what it means for retail or for our culture. Here are five widely held beliefs about Black Friday, and why they're not necessarily true.

Shoppers can get the best deals on Black Friday.

About half of Americans shopped the weekend of Black Friday last year; in one survey, a third of consumers said they shop Black Friday to buy expensive items at a discount, and another third called it an opportunity to find deals not available any other time of the year.

It's true that some items can be found for less on Black Friday than any other day. Ana Serafin Smith of the National Retail Federation says customers will rarely see washers, dryers and big-screen TVs so heavily discounted. But the deals do not extend to all merchandise. Companies use the "loss leader" approach on Black Friday — selling a few particular items at a loss to get people into the store.

"You buy one cheap item, and then you buy five items you don't need at full price," says Allen Adamson of New York University's Stern School of Business. Adamson adds that shoppers often wrongly assume that everything is on sale.

Black Friday is the best day for businesses.

With headlines proclaiming "Retailers hail Black Friday weekend as best ever" and "All Hail Black Friday: The Business Behind the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year," it's easy to believe the day's revenue is the highest of the year for companies. One widely held origin story about the name "Black Friday" is that it's the day that retailers see finances move out of the red and into the black.

But typically, the last Saturday before Christmas, known in the business as Super Saturday, is the record-setting day for retail sales. Retailers have adopted identical practices for Black Friday, such as opening early, which has diluted their effectiveness.

"It's hard to win on Black Friday as a retailer. What you hope to do is not lose customers or sales," Adamson said.

Customers resort to brawling to get the best merchandise.

A quick Internet search yields countless videos and slideshows of "the worst Black Friday brawls in history."

These Black Friday brawls, though, often have nothing to do with getting a deal, with getting the last piece of merchandise or with anything about Black Friday. Some involve shoppers but start over something other than merchandise, such as personal matters or parking spaces.

One reason customers aren't fighting in large numbers over merchandise is that stores generally have plenty of stock to go around.

"The possibility of a retailer running out of an item like a big-screen TV is usually slim to none," Smith says. If it does happen, they give rain checks, she says. In addition, the majority of retailers have warehouse distribution centers where they store additional products, and they can get more items quickly.

Many shoppers still line up before dawn.

Numerous retailers open early on Black Friday, with Macy's, Lowe's and Kmart opening at 6 a.m., and Sears and Dick's Sporting Goods cracking the doors at 5 a.m. this year.

But while pre-dawn shoppers will always be a media favorite, they are being eclipsed by shoppers who show up even earlier: the day before. More stores opening on Thanksgiving are slowing the early-bird race to the stores on Black Friday. A 2017 Black Friday survey by the National Retail Federation found that 11 percent of consumers shopped before 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and another 11 percent started at 6 p.m. A quarter started on Friday at 10 a.m. or later. An Influenster study found that this year, only a third of respondents intending to shop on Black Friday plan to wake up earlier than 5 a.m. to get to stores. Everyone else is sleeping in

The web is killing brick-and-mortar sales.

Roughly 99 million people shopped in stores on Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, compared to 108 million who shopped online. And as the number of shoppers setting foot in stores slips, online sales are on the rise, climbing from $3.34 billion in 2016 to $5 billion last year.

But brick-and-mortar stores are far from dead. In a Bisnow survey on the future of Black Friday for brick-and-mortar retail, more than 30 experts laid out a more complex picture. They pointed to the enduring appeal of in-store shopping on Black Friday: It's a ritual for many families and friends and a form of entertainment; stores offer ease of return that many online retailers do not; and in-person shopping delivers an instant gratification that doesn't translate on the web. In-store sales still win in several important categories, including clothing, which makes up more than 50 percent of all holiday purchases.

Pat Olsen is a freelance writer whose articles and essays have appeared in numerous national publications.