I have never really understood the appeal of Black Friday shopping. I often say there is no amount of savings that will entice me to go out shopping on Black Friday. I even avoid the grocery stores.
I know people who think of Black Friday as a competitive sport. They review catalogs and advertisements, select what they want, and plot itineraries. Sometimes they team up with other deal-seekers – you go to that store and get XYZ for me and I’ll pick up ABC for you while I’m at this other store. I understand the draw of savings; I like money myself and love to save, but I hate shopping and hate shopping in a crowd even more, so I’m certainly not about to deliberately head to the stores at the busiest time of year. I prefer to do my shopping online if I must shop at all.
What I hate most of all, however, is watching corporations rake in the profits at the expense of their employees (and their families) while consumers become slaves to materialism and forget their humanity. I have read about grown men and women shoving children and senior citizens out of the way in order to be first in line for the latest must-have item which will probably be broken and/or obsolete by the time the next black Friday comes around. I have seen news reports about fist-fights over toys and electronics, and have even heard of people being trampled to death in the crowd’s rush to be first. Reflect on that for a moment. Is Tickle-Me-Elmo really worth the sacrifice of a human life? If someone offered you $100 to push a child down the stairs, would you do it? And what would you think of the person who asked you to do it? Would you punch a stranger in the face for $20?
Instead of stepping back and saying “this is really getting out of hand”, corporate America continues to step it up every year, feeding the insanity with its avarice and opening their doors earlier and earlier so they can be first to profit on consumers’ desperation. This year many stores are not even waiting until it’s actually Friday before they open their doors. Target employees made headlines this year by circulating a petition (http://www.startribune.com/business/134254353.html) requesting the retailer push back its planned midnight opening to the following morning in order to allow its employees to spend the holiday with their families. The corporation’s response was essentially ‘Aww, isn’t that sweet? You want to spend time with your widdle families. Too bad, so sad. Now go back to your little corner and let the big important people make the decisions.’ Employees should be thankful to have a job at all, they say, and should be thankful for the hours because it means they have job security. And how many of the people responsible for the decision will be leaving their families at 1 pm on Thanksgiving so they can get to the store in time to stack big screen TVs in neat little pyramids before midnight? I say Target should be the company it claims to be and rank its employees as equally important as its guests. Furthermore, it should respect its guests and their families enough to give THEM the holiday to spend with their families too.
Target is only doing what the consumers want, they claim, because it’s important to stay competitive. Of course that’s true, but I think they are missing the basic point of it all. Why do consumers want the deals to start on Thursday night? So they don’t have to get up so early on Friday morning. So instead of opening earlier & earlier, why not try opening later? Show respect for your employees and their families, and you will earn their loyalty. They are your customers too after all. Of course I don’t expect this to happen but a girl can dream.
I also saw a picture of the crowd which had already begun to gather outside a Best Buy store in the Minneapolis area. I couldn’t help but feel sad that those people placed such little value on their own time. How much is your time worth to you? How about your friends and family?
At any rate, now I will avoid Black Friday more than ever. I refuse to encourage the rampant consumerism and will continue to focus on what I love about this holiday; gathering around a table with my loved ones. And stuffing with gravy. And of course, pie.