Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Infamous Black Friday Shopping Day

What in the world has happened to our sacred Black Friday shopping day?  To the tradition that signaled the beginning of the Christmas shopping season?

Thanksgiving has come and gone and so has the infamous Black Friday shopping day—the day THEY say marks the moment retailers have covered their expenses for the balance of the year and are operating totally in the black with everything being profit.  Or at least that's what it originally meant…in days gone by.

Since U.S. Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday in November, for the majority of people that equates to a Thursday through Sunday four day holiday weekend.  In the past, the long holiday weekend has marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season…commencing Friday morning.  It also signaled the time to put away the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations and drag out the Christmas decorations and gift wrapping paper while turning our thinking to the jolly ho-ho-ho mode.

Originally (many years ago in the dark ages), the Friday after Thanksgiving had several stores opening a few hours early (like 7 or 8AM) with some items on sale to draw in the shoppers in order to take advantage of the situation where so many people had that Friday off work as part of a four day holiday weekend.  The big sales were the after Christmas sales commencing first thing the morning of December 26th where retailers wanted to get rid of any and all leftover inventory from Christmas and start out the new year with fresh merchandise.

But it seems that everything is different now.  Somewhere along the line Black Friday has become an almost bizarre ritual with all the trappings of an event type of happening.

Rather than stores opening a couple of hours earlier on Friday morning than normal as it used to be, each year for the last few years they are opening earlier and earlier.  People waiting in line outside for hours in the cold so they could be the first ones to rush inside the moment the doors were unlocked at 3:00AM.  Television news crews would do live reports on Thursday night from some of the larger stores showing hundreds of people with their lawn chairs, sleeping bags, and some even had tents.  Earlier in the evening it's a party type of atmosphere.  By the time the store unlocks the doors, it's a lot of very cold and tired people all trying to crowd through the door at the same time.  I suspect they want inside from the cold as much as to make that race to their desired bargain.

Then that earlier and earlier Friday morning unlock the doors time became midnight Thursday and finally any pretense of being closed on Thursday for the holiday officially disappeared.  Some stores opened at 5PM Thanksgiving (giving employees a few hours to have dinner with family) while others opened Thursday morning and stayed open continuously through Friday night.

Stores being open on Thanksgiving day and evening this year has produced an unexpected result.  The local 6AM television news Friday morning did a live report from a couple of the large stores, in the past very crowded at that hour with the early morning Black Friday shoppers.  This year's early Friday morning shoppers were greatly reduced in numbers although the shoppers crowded the stores Thursday evening.  Some stores advertised additional bargain prices starting at 7AM on Friday morning to make sure shoppers from Thursday would have a reason to come back on Friday.

Black Friday starting on Thursday morning—once it happens, it becomes tradition.

In recent years, the biggest competition to Black Friday bargains has been the internet and it's growing every year.  Shopping via computer rather than actually getting in the car and driving to the mall has been growing by leaps and bounds.  In fact, the Monday following Thanksgiving is now referred to as Cyber Monday and Green Monday.  And so many internet shopping sites offer the same Black Friday bargains as their brick and mortar stores, including additional incentives such as free shipping or being able to pick up your order at the local store instead of waiting for it to be delivered.

No standing in line for hours in the cold in the middle of the night.  Those same bargains are now only a mouse click away.  You get a good night's sleep and Black Friday is available for pursuits other than elbowing your way through throngs of holiday shoppers.

So, who braved the weather, lost sleep, and jostled your way through crowds to snag those bargain prices this year for no reason other than being able to take your purchase with you when you left the store?  And how many of you have now completed your holiday shopping?

And speaking of holiday shopping…how many of you noticed how early all things Christmas were out and on display this year?  I encountered Christmas items prominently displayed and Christmas promotions before Halloween.  Some as early as in September.  And I'm already hearing Christmas music on the radio.  Not to mention that the Hallmark cable movie channel started showing only Christmas movies early in November.  :)

How many of you preferred to stay home on Black Friday and enjoy all those Thanksgiving dinner leftovers while watching football?

And now I have a confession.  I did venture out to a store on Black Friday about 8:30AM, but not for holiday shopping.  I had to go to the office supply store because I was out of printer ink.  Only a few people at Office Max.  However, four doors north of the office supply store, Kohl's had a very full parking lot.

So…onward toward the Christmas and New Year holidays, followed by the retraining period to get back into a normal routine after three major holidays in less than six weeks.


Ashantay said...

I spent Friday trying to avoid eating, and visited a botanical garden with my critique partner yesterday. Restful - giving me more time to be grateful for my life. That's my new tradition! I hope your holiday was all you hoped and wanted.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: That sounds like a marvelous new tradition and a great way to spend a day.

Thanks for your comment.

Barbara Bettis said...

I really was sad to see so many stores opening at some point on Thanksgiving. Can we not have two days out of 365 when stores close?--

Samantha Gentry said...

Barbara: I feel bad for those who had to work on the holiday rather than being able to spend it with family and friends.

Thanks for your comment.