Yep, it’s that time of year again! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays. It’s the biggest discount day of the year: Black Friday. Black Friday, for those who don’t get out much, is the Friday after Thanksgiving where shopping is at its prime. People camp outside retail stores for days prior just to be the first ones to get the biggest bang for their buck. Stores open in the wee hours of the morning expecting lines down the block of discount driven shoppers to rush in. But is it all really worth it?
Most people claim to be huge Black Friday fanatics; integrating this early rise shopping ritual to be a tradition throughout the years. Nonetheless, it can be easily noticed that those who don’t participate feel as if they are missing out on something. We are constantly being reminded about all the spectacular deals going on through radio and T.V. commercials, coupons in the mail and newspaper, as well as simply by word of mouth. In recent years, even our email inboxes are bombarded with Black Friday mantras. The culmination of all of this hype serves as a windfall to stores like Kohls, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. In fact, this year, these stores are opening at midnight to reel in customers earlier than ever before. Walmart is even opening at a 10 p.m., which is still 2 hours before Thanksgiving technically ends! In essence, Black Friday has gone ballistic. With these early times, people are losing the true meaning of what Thanksgiving is actually all about.
Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks to those who are most important in our lives and spending cherished time with them whether it be in front of the TV watching a football game or a movie or sitting at the dining room table with our pants undone. By starting Black Friday so early this year, a group of people in America are losing face-time with their family by occupying the BestBuy parking lot instead of gathering around the dinner table. In fact, there are plenty of people who will skip the traditional Thanksgiving meal altogether to garner the coveted first space in line. Not to mention the time that employees are forced to put into their work schedule instead of with their families. It’s a family’s choice to be so dedicated to Black Friday that they have to skip the holiday for it, but the employees have no choice but to attend to their job.
Another interesting spin on the “holiday” is the effect, or perhaps lack of effect, that online shopping has on Black Friday. You would think with that the trendy online shopping behavior would be the perfect solution because it allows people to shop for the same bargains without leaving their family and without enduring the crazy crowds and long lines. However, because the press around Black Friday is more insane than ever this year, online shopping may not have as much of an impact as it can.
The question this poses to me is what does this public relations scandal (if you can call it that) say about American society as a whole? Sadly, I think this emphasis on Black Friday really brings out the shift in values our country has faced over the past decades. As America has become one of the most technologically advanced places in the world, we have a constant need for the next best thing, making material items of upmost importance in our lives. Also, with such a depressing economy as ours of late, we look for the best bargain we can find to get these products. Black Friday is the perfect way for people to get the things they want at the best price they can find.
Are people really getting that much of a bargain that its worth skipping out on a family holiday for? What it all comes down to when deciding if Black Friday shopping is worth giving up a real Thanksgiving is weighing out the costs and benefits. If you ask me, I value my family too much to let a day of shopping come between some quality time together. I do think that Black Friday is a great way to advertise bargains and create hype for some beneficial holiday shopping. However, I strongly feel that this shopping holiday should fall a few days after Thanksgiving that way it doesn’t interfere with such an important real holiday in American society.