By Kyle Beck, Trending Writer
The end of the calendar year has long served as a time to come together and celebrate the holiday season with family and friends. In addition to the longstanding traditions of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, to name a few, many of us now anticipate two new dates nearly as much as the others. Black Friday, and more recently, Cyber Monday, now arrive with so much fanfare that they can almost be considered holidays themselves. As they continue to grow in popularity, these shopping-oriented events, the fruits of American consumerism, are quickly embedding themselves within our culture.
Black Friday, in particular, has begun to develop into a cultural phenomenon. Nearly all major retailers offer their best sales of the year on this day, making it the biggest spending day of the year in the United States. Since it falls on the day after Thanksgiving, most families are already together, and many choose to shop together as a family. Because of this, Black Friday shopping sprees have become almost an extension of the Thanksgiving holiday, and Black Friday shopping has become a new family tradition for many Americans.
That being said, there are two sides to every story. Retailers, seeking to capitalize on the holiday spending, have been opening their doors progressively earlier as the years go on, even as early as Thursday night. That means retail employees have no option but to go to work on Thanksgiving, meaning their family time is cut short. In 2012, Target made the move to a 6pm Thursday opening time, drawing widespread backlash in the process. One part-time employee wrote a petition in 2012, which received over 365,000 signatures, imploring that Target reconsider its decision. However, many Target stores that year remained open anyway.
The Black Friday deals are so valuable to consumers, most of whom shop for holiday gifts or for large markdowns on expensive purchases, that many stores experience a huge rush when the doors open and people race to pick up the coveted items. This occasionally has led to violence, like in 2008 when a Walmart employee was knocked down and trampled by hundreds of shoppers when the store opened at 5 in the morning. The incident led to several shoppers suffering minor injuries. The employee, tragically, was killed by the stampede.
It appears that Black Friday, and its status as a pseudo-holiday, is here to stay. The benefits are undeniable, especially from an economic perspective, and millions of American families are embracing it. However, reckless greed, both from retailers desperate for profits and from consumers desperate for merchandise, has caused and will continue to cause incidents. It is up to us as a society to decide what is and is not acceptable when it comes to holiday shopping.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.
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