Why I Don’t Buy Into Black Friday

Thousands of people across our great nation lined up outside of stores, some of them days in advance, in hopes of scoring one of the few doorbuster deals retailers were offering as early as 8PM Thursday. Others got up before dawn Friday hoping to get in on other early bird deals various stores were advertising. And even more folks flocked to crowded malls in hopes of saving some money (without getting trampled, assaulted, or in a fight, hopefully) on whatever electronic or toy is the hottest thing to give this holiday season.

And I think it’s ridiculous.

As stores open earlier and earlier, employees are being forced to work crazier hours. Sometimes, they’re even stuck taking time away from their families, holiday preparations, and traditions so that stores can be open long past standard business hours.  I’m not talking, here, about stores that are normally open 24 hours.  I’m talking about the stores that, on Black Friday, open at 12AM, instead of their standard 9AM.

“But it’s their job.”

When you work somewhere, you have a reasonable expectation of when your work hours are, based on when that company’s business hours are. I work a full time job with a pretty standard 9AM to 6PM schedule.  While there have been times I have volunteered to come in on a Saturday, or have stayed later to make sure a deadline was met, there has never been a time where I’ve been asked to start working at 12AM, or have had to work 16 hour days.  And I’m a salaried employee, which means when I do work overtime, I’m not lucky enough to get time-and-a-half, and I don’t get paid for a 10 hour workday when I work one.

Back to that bold sentence above. Aside from the stores that are open 24 hours, all the other stores that had crazy Black Friday (or Thanksgiving Day) hours that were vastly different from their normal business hours, or even holiday hours.  And while, sure, there might have been some employees who volunteered to be in at 6P on Thanksgiving Day, or 3AM on Black Friday, chances are, the majority of people who worked those hours, didn’t volunteer their time.  No, chances are, they were scheduled to work, and had to show up or face disciplinary action, or even risk losing their job.

And while it may be a Target employee’s job to, well, work at Target, they probably didn’t realize that when they took their job, they were signing up to skip Thanksgiving dinner with their family, or go without sleep after a big meal (and perhaps a home full of guests) to stock a store and deal with hounds of (often rude, sometimes dangerous) bargain hunters.  In fact, a sibling of a Target employee filed a petition at Change.org to ask Target not to take away Thanksgiving.  It got over 4,000 signatures, though it didn’t really make a difference, because Target still opened early on Thanksgiving.  Here’s a still open petition, started by a Target employee, which has over 370,000 supporters.  There are supposedly similar petitions started by employees of both Walmart and Toys R Us, for the same reason.

Some may argue that it’s time for new traditions.

In fact, I know people who have changed their Thanksgiving routines in order to be able to shop starting at midnight, or earlier the past your or two. They have created new family traditions, involving lighter lunches and all-night shopping binges.  I’m sure there are families of retail workers who have made similar changes in their family traditions to allow for the family to be together longer, which is an awesome way to make lemonade out of lemons.

But if we all move Thanksgiving dinner to Thanksgiving lunch, how long will it take for retailers to start opening at lunchtime, and then for them to just be open all day? Probably not very long at all.  And then, Thanksgiving will end up being a holiday that isn’t really a holiday after all, because we’ll all be working… even those of us with desk jobs.  Because if retailers are open all day, what’s going to stop the rest of the business world from being open?  Yea… nothing.

I don’t think that’s what Thanksgiving should become. I think we should keep Thanksgiving a national holiday, and not let it turn into just another day that turns into “back in my day” stories during Christmastime.

I think we should go back to how it used to be.

I know times are changing. And I know that some brick-and-mortar stores are hurting due to online retailers.  But Thanksgiving is one of the oldest American national holidays (it was proclaimed one by Abraham Lincoln in 1893), and one of the few non-religious holidays we all get off to spend time with family.  Why are we letting it slowly dwindle away to something meaningless?

Christmas decorations (and music) come out right after Halloween now. Maybe lots of people don’t decorate for Thanksgiving any more, or maybe retailers are hoping that by making Christmas decorations available sooner, the folks who need to use layaway to purchase things can still have a festive home for the holidays.  But still, Thanksgiving shouldn’t be thrown away just to feed into society’s greed.

What’s more?  You Black Friday shoppers aren’t getting the best deals any more!

This article, posted by a friend of mine on Facebook, was interesting. It looked at 2011 numbers and actually showed that in name cases, the number of products on sale were less on Black Friday than both before and after, and that in terms of actual item prices, some items even had price hikes on Black Friday!  You’re actually better off either shopping before Black Friday, or afterwards (though not right before Christmas).

So let’s take back Thanksgiving!

Next year, when retailers open at 6PM or earlier on Thanksgiving day, let’s not give in. Let’s stay home and enjoy the day off work, and spend it with family and/or friends.  Let’s take a minute out of our busy lives to enjoy who we have with us, while we have them.  Let’s pause to be thankful for what we have, and not spend hours waiting in line to trample each other for something that, in reality, we don’t really even need.

But wait!

I actually like the idea of Black Friday. I don’t think there needs to be no Black Friday.  I just think retailers need to let both us non-retail employees, as well as the hard-working men and women who do work retail, have a Thanksgiving.  Can’t we go back to stores opening an hour earlier and closing an hour later on Black Friday?  Heck, even 4 extra hours (2 hours before open and after close) would be acceptable.  But this business of opening earlier on Thanksgiving and hiking prices up so that the sale price is actually not too much different from what the price was a couple weeks prior?  Silliness!

I also love the idea of Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. I think those are great ways for smaller places to get their names out there.  Plus, it’d be silly for me to be against something that helps my husband, a small business owner with a strong online presence, so much.  But I’ve been trying to support local businesses more and more lately, and that’s the real reason I like Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

What do you think?

Are you a die-hard Black Friday shopper? Do you tent up, wait in line, and elbow your way through crowds to get whatever doorbusters are hot hot hot?  Is there something  I’m missing about all of it?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Or are you with me? Do you think this Black Friday madness has gone too far, and we all need to take a step back, breathe, and stop buying into shopping crazes like this?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

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27 comments for “Why I Don’t Buy Into Black Friday

  1. November 26, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    I never even leave the house on Black Friday. It’s all nonsense.

    • November 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Yea… we left the house, but later in the afternoon and only to drive out to my parents’ place for the weekend. No shopping for me on such a crazy day, thankyouverymuch!

  2. November 27, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Love your perspective! I’ve never done Black Friday shopping even though I love to score a deal. I hate pushy crowds and standing in long lines. I find the Thanksgiving Day store opening disturbing.

    • November 27, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      I’m not a big fan of crowds either, or the pushy, rude people that often seem to find the spotlight on days like Black Friday. I’m sure there are plenty of nice people who go out and shop, but I think the mob mentality and entitlement thoughts take over for lots of folks and causes them to be rude and unforgiving. I’ll pass!

  3. Bre Dale
    November 27, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    You brought up some very good points that I’ve failed to acknowledge in the past. I’ve been a black friday/ cyber monday and small business saturday shopper the past couple of years. I will def. think on this before doing it again…thanks.

    • November 27, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      Bre, a lot of this I hadn’t thought about either, until someone I was talking to brought it up. And when he did, it was like a whole string of Christmas lights went off in my head.

  4. November 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    i agree that black friday is taking the fun and tradition out of thanksgiving! people are forced to eat early and then shop on thursday sometimes! and shops dont always have the best deals either but people still wait in crazy lines!!

    • November 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Yea, the fun has definitely been sapped from it. Especially if you’re unlucky enough to be in some of the scarier lines/stores, with fights breaking out, people getting hurt (or worse)… it ruins the Holiday spirit, I think.

  5. November 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    I actually enjoy Black Friday. It brings back memories of waking up early to go to the toy store with my mom and secure those hard-to-find Christmas gifts for my younger siblings. We made a whole girls-day out of it. Shopped, went out for a meal, shopped more, sipped Starbucks and just enjoyed the experience. The bummer is the people who go insane. Let’s just enjoy the day, spend the time with people we love, score some good deals and calm the heck down. HA! – Katy

    • November 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      I remember shopping the Friday after as a kid too, and while we woke up early, it wasn’t at 3AM to go wait in line only to be pushed and shoved, or find that the deals aren’t nearly as good anyway. I think it’s gotten out of hand, and I wish it were more like it used to be. I agree that people need to lighten up and enjoy the day. It can easily be another nice day to spend with friends and family, without having to deal with craziness!

  6. November 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I agree things have gotten completely out of control with Black Friday Sales. Except for one 24 hour store which we did shop in around 3 or 4pm for grocery type items all the places we visited on Black Friday were small businesses and then a Holiday Bazaar. I don’t know if the small businesses felt compelled to be open but at least one of them was making quite a few sales.

    • November 27, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      Oh and we didn’t leave the house to shop until about 11am.

    • November 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      I like that you went to small businesses! I don’t really have an issue with stores being open on Friday… it’s the craziness that I think has become a problem. Opening on Thursday evening, or at midnight on Friday is just nuts. What happened to reasonable hours?!

  7. November 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    I only bought one thing this Black Friday, and it was online. I’ve often wondered whether the deals that are available to anyone who isn’t the first in line are that great. And now, with Cyber Monday, there really isn’t a point to shop on Black Friday – at least not for me.

    I know some people use Black Friday as a way to spend time with the family – they make shopping a family affair and have great fun doing it. My preference is still to sit at home with a big slice of apple pie.

    • November 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      I can see using Black Friday as a way to spend time with family or friends, and that’s ok. But I still don’t think stores should be opening on Thanksgiving, or at ridiculous hours on Friday.

      I definitely agree that there’s less and less reason to shop on Black Friday at all… and online shopping is definitely one of them!

  8. November 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I so agree and most of these poor people don’t get time and a half that work it because they aren’t given full time benefits and the companies find loop holes on not to pay them. I hate that stores are even open on Thanksgiving. If someone forgets to buy cranberry sauce then oh well, remember it next year it is not someone else responsibility to make up for other peoples errors. Let people stay home with family members. As you can see I feel very strongly about Black Fridays and stores open on the holidays. LOL Sorry for the rant.

    • November 27, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      Funny you say that about cranberry sauce… my brother in law had everything to make it and forgot. You know what? We survived! There was still PLENTY of delicious food.

      I agree with you though, so no offense taken on the rant! After all, it was pretty much a rant on my rant about the same thing 😉

  9. November 27, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I totally didn’t buy anything on Black Friday. I slept in, enjoyed myself and browsed online a bit. Are the sales really that good? That it warrants pushing and shoving for them?

    • November 27, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      I haven’t seen anything for years that warranted waking up at an hour where the birds aren’t even up, let alone push and shove for. And the one year I did go wait in line, it was for computer memory that doubled what I had, and I was 19 (so figure it was less memory than you can get on a thumbdrive nowadays LOL). There was no shoving or pushing though, and the line started 30 minutes before the store opened at 8A, instead of days in advance.

  10. November 27, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    The only thing I bought on Black Friday was an outfit I needed for an event Saturday. The only reason I chose Black Friday is that I put it off too long 🙂 I normally don’t do tons of shopping on Black Friday. I don’t like crowds. I prefer online.

    • November 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      Ha, sounds like something I’d do… rummage thru the closet only to find nothing works for me, and be stuck going out and buying something new on a crazy shopping day. I hope you were able to find something and stay sane!

  11. November 27, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I was happy to find out that cyber monday brought loads of money to retailers and happy to report – I bought NOTHING! No money – No honey! And I am happy about it

    • November 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      I didn’t buy anything on Cyber Monday either. Or Black Friday. Or Small Business Saturday (though I did go shopping at a small business before helping my mom look at cabinets for the kitchen).

  12. November 27, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I don’t shop at all on Black Friday. I boycott. I don’t support business that don’t care about their employees. I like to be home with my family. Rather than out in a crowd fighting over a $5 DVD (for example). I love your post, well said.

    • November 27, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      I agree on boycotting stores that don’t care about their employees! In fact, after hearing about some of the stuff Walmart does (which I feel like I should have heard about long before this), I think I’m going to stop shopping there entirely. I’ll pay a little extra to shop for certain things at a store that doesn’t treat their employees like dirt.

  13. mel
    November 27, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    I don’t buy Black Friday but I did buy Small Business Saturday! I hate the crowds!

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