Countless people wait outside on a barricaded sidewalk on a chilly November day, the day after Thanksgiving, anticipating the moment when the doors finally open. When they do, a stampede of of people rushes through the doors, some running over each other just to get inside.
Arguments and frustrations arise between people who have been waiting for hours just to be the first to snatch the deal. As emotions heat up, people soon forget the thankfulness shared over a turkey dinner just a couple hours prior, and instead indulge in reckless consumerism.
The event described might be thought of as an example of a cultural crisis; in actuality, it’s an example of what has been exposed in videos found in the news every year around this time, videos about Black Friday.
Thanksgiving Day seems to be shifting into a retailer’s dream as many companies open on Thanksgiving in order to meet the high demand of Black Friday shoppers. Among such stores are big retail companies like Macy’s, Target, and Best Buy. Various stores will open as early as 3:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, giving shoppers the opportunity to start purchasing before even sitting down to a meal with their families.
Not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, and some companies are refusing to open their doors on a holiday out of respect for their employees and their families. DSW, B.J.’s, and Barnes & Noble are some stores that have vocalized their disapproval of opening on Thanksgiving Day.
Michael R. MacDonald, the CEO of DSW, issued the following statement: “While many retail stores will be opening for business on Thanksgiving Day, this year we continue the DSW tradition of keeping ours closed. Family time is extremely important to us, and we want our associates to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones.”
Opinions about Black Friday vary between consumers, as many use the day off to find bargains on expensive items. Many also consider the day as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season and choose to shop with friends and family. For instance, ENC student Stephanie Vasquez favors the idea of Black Friday because she says it saves customers’ money. However, she doesn’t think it’s fair to the employees who have to work on Thanksgiving Day.
When talking about Black Friday, people usually focus on the consumer and how frugal they can be when shopping on this day, but little attention is paid to the retail employees. Sophomore Chris Barnes has had the opportunity of working on Black Friday. He said that in previous years working on this day was overwhelming and his quality of work decreases.
“I feel like Black Friday is a gimmick to get people to buy more than they would normally, because the sales are not as big of a difference from other holiday sales,” said Barnes. “It’s definitely hard for employees because with a flood of customers coming in, there are around five to ten customers to every one employee.”
It seems that coming to a compromise with regard to Black Friday might be the best solution to this overwhelming time of year, for both customers and retail employees alike. Shopping on other “deal days,” such as Cyber Monday, can benefit the customer and retail employee. Customers can purchase lower-priced electronics from the comfort of their own home and more time can also be spent making a decision and shopping around to compare prices.
If shopping is done online, there is no need to wait in long, chaotic lines, or have to deal with aggressive shoppers competing over the same item. More importantly, online shopping doesn’t affect the employees working in retail as much as shopping in a store, especially on a holiday.
Black Friday has gotten out of hand, and shoppers have the power to not purchase inside stores on that day, or even Thanksgiving Day, for that matter. If we don’t shop, then there will be no demand, and next year, stores would simply stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.
This is not to say that we should stay in our homes and not go shopping, but rather have a different attitude when it comes to being a responsible shopper. When going home for the holidays, we should remember to spend quality time with family and friends, and not allow consumerism to dictate the way we treat each other. Thankfulness and charity is what should fill our lives rather than greed and selfishness.
Being adamant about family time can make a difference, just as some companies are doing by not opening on Thanksgiving. GameStop President Mike Buskey said, “We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday.” Although several companies seem to be making their opening time earlier each year, it is always nice to see some companies with different priorities.
The National Retail Federation predicts that 19 percent of the retail industry’s sales for the year will be made in the months of November and December. Companies that opt to miss out on Thanksgiving Day sales will not be making a seriously detrimental decision, given that sales in the last two months of the year are high. Part of those November sales occur because more holiday shoppers begin buying gifts early in November. According to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, “Thanksgiving weekend shopping has evolved tremendously over the past few years and can no longer be seen as the ‘start’ of the holiday season.”
Uniting together to take a stand and protect family time during the holidays can make an impact to leave stores closed on Thanksgiving Day. Retail employees can then have a break before the stressful holiday season that’s approaching. Ultimately, we can all learn how to take one holiday at a time.