Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Shouldn’t We?

Friday kicks off the official holiday shopping season with the event known as Black Friday.  The problem with this is the event is no longer reserved for just Friday, as retailers are caught in an endless increase of operating hours for the sake of being competitive.  In fact, basically any establishment with a cash register on hand is opening at the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving, as soon as Friday technically begins.  However, the more extremely desperate are opening on Thanksgiving Day. 

I understand grocery stores staying open for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day.  Mistakes happen and speed bumps slow us down unexpectedly, so if more food is needed, some grocers are open to accommodate the holiday hiccups.  This is clearly the real reason, seeing how Americans need another holiday based around eating food and deserve the convenience.  Ahh, convenience.  There’s something to be thankful for!

Grocery stores being open for a few hours during a national holiday is a concept which isn’t lost on me, but do Old Navy and K-Mart really need to be open all day?  Are people really going to spend the day buying outerwear and sweaters along with a $49 LCD TV made by some brand they’ve never heard of? (I made that last one up for exaggeration, so don’t go scouring the internet for it) As always, in an effort to tempt the masses with both convenience and low prices, Walmart is opening at 10 PM Thanksgiving night.  The rest of the world will be opening two hours later as of this posting.  Having worked Black Friday several times over during my years in retail, I have always been astounded by people’s willingness to camp outside of a store all night in order to save a few bucks on crap they didn’t need in the first place.  It seems, this year, people will just be spending their day outside instead.

After hearing about retailers’ plans for opening at midnight this year, I wasn’t too surprised when I didn’t hear much of an outcry about unfairness and how the people who work in these stores are being taken advantage of.  Why would anyone complain?  After all, Thanksgiving is a holiday about consumption, mainly the consumption of food and merchandise.  Oh sure, the family part plays into it for a few hours (maybe) but most people believe spending time waiting outside a store in the cold with their kids counts as quality time.  That’s a sad truth of the modern American lifestyle.  Stores will continue to be open for ludicrous hours as long as people are willing to forego time spent at home with family (or sleeping) for time spent racking up their credit card balance.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed my Black Friday experiences in the past, both as a customer and a retail employee.  I dig the chaos and disorder which make up the day, partly why I’ve woken up early in years past to be in line for stores which opened at 6 AM, gone home for a nap, and worked the closing shift later on.  In fact, the only time I ever opened a store on Black Friday was twelve years ago, which is the main reason I never did it again.  People are nuts!

As for me, when I decide to partake in the event, I make a wish list of items I see in ads and hope they will be there when I show up at the store.  If they’re not, oh well.  Considering the man hours spent waiting on line to get in the stores, rummaging through merchandise, and finally, waiting on line to pay, more often than not, I’d rather keep my money and buy what I really want when I decide it’s necessary.  After all, you’re not saving money when you go to these sales.  You’re spending it.  Don’t get caught up in the hype.

In any case, travel safely, be kind to retail employees who don’t have any control over what is in stock, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!