The Insanity of Black Friday

November 25th, 2009

 Original photo by Outsanity Photos

For many Americans, the Thanksgiving holiday is not only synonymous with turkey, but also the sales fliers for Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving, millions of people get out of bed ridiculously early and contend with traffic jams and mobs of people for what they perceive to be great bargains. Despite the hype, these so called bargains aren’t always what they appear to be.

Although Christmas decorations seem to appear earlier each year, even before most people buy their Thanksgiving turkeys, Black Friday is the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Some people have made a tradition of shopping on Black Friday while others deal with the insanity just to save money. Either way, I just don’t see it being worthwhile.

Holidays are Special

Many of us overindulge on holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Between the abundance of appetizers, the enormous turkey dinner, a variety of desserts, more than a few too many drinks, and socializing well past bedtime, it’s quite an insult to the body. However, contrary to what you might expect me to say, if you’re going to indulge, a holiday like Thanksgiving is the time to do it. In addition to all of the great food, it’s a chance to spend time with family and friends which for some of us is an opportunity that exists less frequently than we’d like. As long as you don’t get carried away and ruin the occasion for yourself of anyone else, holidays are an excellent time to take full advantage of indulging in reasonable moderation without worrying about anything other than creating great memories. Just don’t let a day of indulgence turn into a full month that results in a list of New Year’s resolutions.

What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to follow up an enjoyable but taxing occasion like Thanksgiving with insufficient sleep and the stress of waiting in long lines, driving through major traffic, and fighting massive crowds of frenzied people. Since most people hate waking up early for work, why not take advantage of the day off by getting a full night of sleep and having a relaxing morning with your family? Your body could certainly use the rest after the Thanksgiving festivities and we could all stand to enjoy more time with our families.

My First and Last Black Friday Experience

Two years ago, my wife and I decided that it was time to get our first flat screen television. Even though I rarely watch television, the thought of watching tennis on a big screen in high definition was appealing enough for me to wake up in the middle of the night and brave the crowds. Just hours after Thanksgiving had passed, there we were waiting outside of a department store well before 5 AM in the freezing cold with a bunch of people that I would’ve called crazy if I wasn’t one of them. To add a little excitement to the occasion, a manager came out to inform the crowd that the store had limited stock of the television that we wanted, and the subsequent grumbling made it obvious that most people were there for the same thing. As if waiting in the cold at 4 AM wasn’t enough punishment, minutes suddenly seemed like hours.

When the doors finally opened, I was dumbfounded to see full grown adults sprinting from the back of the line through the store to get ahead of us. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to tackle them and that it wouldn’t have been more satisfying than getting a great deal on a television. After finally making it to the electronics department and managing to stay calm, my suspicion was confirmed that about 99% of the people there were wanting televisions, and as a result, we ended up waiting on another long line. Since the store has multiple entrances, this line was at least twice as long as the one outside. The entire ordeal lasted about 5 or 6 hours, but we were fortunate enough to get one of the last televisions.

Although my experience with Black Friday was enough to make it my last, it was apparently a mild one. Some people actually camp out in front of stores overnight to be at the front of the line when the doors open in the morning, but even this is nothing in comparison to what happened last year. In my own state, one woman was killed and a pregnant woman was hospitalized during a stampede to get into Wal-Mart, and two other people were shot to death over an argument at a Toys-R-Us in California. Nothing like a little Christmas spirit to warm your heart!

Some Black Friday Bargains are Nothing But Scams

We ended up getting a nice television for a great price. However, I’d been watching prices for a while and what we paid wasn’t much cheaper than a few of the deals I’d seen weeks before Thanksgiving. There was one television in particular from Best Buy that I was keeping a close eye on. As Thanksgiving approached, the price increased considerably, and to my surprise, the Black Friday sale price for the same television was actually more expensive than the price from a few weeks prior.

Black Friday is one of the busiest and most profitable days of the year for most retailers and they rely heavily on their marketing to keep it that way. As is commonly seen in furniture stores throughout the year, the people who plan the Black Friday sales have apparently embraced the tactic of making ordinary prices seem like great deals. The truly great deals are often loss leaders which means that the store is willing to take a loss on these products to get you out of bed and into the store. They wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t anticipate earning their money back and then some with their other “great deals.” If you think you’re too smart to fall for this, keep in mind that everyone else is thinking the same thing, and if the retailers are still embracing these tactics, then most of these people must be wrong. It’s something to think about before you choose to brave the chaos and insanity of Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If nothing else, I hope that you found my rant about Black Friday to be amusing and in good natured humor. Some people are fanatical about Black Friday and will participate in the madness no matter what. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you’re one of them and you sprint through stores to cut in front of people, don’t be surprised if you get tackled. :)

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that you have some delicious turkey, that you benefit from all of it’s mood boosting tryptophan, and most importantly, that you thoroughly enjoy your time with family and friends. Since Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, I’d like to thank all of you for making the effort that I put into this website extremely rewarding.

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