Black Friday: A Holiday of Obsessive Shopping

By Rishi R Shah, Opinion Writer                   

America’s tradition of waking up before sunrise to shop for the holidays has been a commonality as long as I can remember. It even has a name: Black Friday.

This celebration of sales seems to be quite coincidental considering it is placed right after a day where Americans should give thanks. However, economically speaking, this has played out very well for both companies and families.

This not-so-official holiday has its roots in the 1930’s when many retailers had promotions designed to draw in non-retail employees and students during the four-day weekend they received (Thursday-Sunday). Stores opened at around 6am and shoppers flocked to the doors creating record breaking sales year after year. This tradition grew as many major outlets had door buster sales and families saved for a year to buy a marvelous new TV set, for a fraction of the regular price!

Slowly, competition has ramped up and in the early 2000’s, retail outlets made shopping times earlier (or later at night depending on your viewpoint). This trend slowly grew until finally in 2011 major outlets, including Walmart, Kohl’s and Best Buy, opened at midnight. Yearly, this time crept into Thanksgiving Day and in 2014, many retailers opened their doors at 5pm. This is a time when most families sit down for their feast! These once calm gatherings have now turned into a rushed event for families who wanted to reap the benefits of sales. 

Even though the prices of products are great and many families do save a lot of money, the idea of “Black Friday” has been torn apart. Companies have Black Friday deals posted earlier every year and some even have “Black Friday Every Day” sales that are a month long. Some take advantage of a title to draw consumers in but the fact is, sales have been declining yearly as the sale itself has become tacky and not as well liked. USA Today reports “Black Friday lost its title as the busiest shopping day of the year.

With competition from e-commerce, along with door buster specials offered earlier in the month and selling on Thanksgiving Day itself, shoppers discovered they don’t have to wait for Black Friday to grab a deal.”

As a result of these outrageous opening times, many Americans have started to realize that excessive consumerism is not right, and I agree wholeheartedly with them. A press release shared by a Mall of America executive reinforced this point: “However, it [Black Friday sales] also meant that team members may not have been able to share the day with family and friends. That is why this year we have made the decision to close on Thanksgiving Day so that team members can put that energy where it matters most.” 

This major announcement by a super mall executive stunned retailers as this coming Black Friday is forecasted to bring in billions in revenue. The fact remains that shoppers are willing to spend. Whether open on Thursday or Friday, the stream of revenue will be there. However, I believe we can do something about this absurd situation. If enough of us stay home on Thanksgiving day, more retailers will be dissuaded from this “Thanksgiving creep”, as they will fail to reach their revenue targets. 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.

Contact Rishi at

rishi.shah@student.shu.edu

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