by Shannon Peters on Friday, December 7th, 2012
Yearly, near the end of November, people across the country gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, a day devoted to being thankful for family and the year’s good fortune. However, only a day later, this grateful frame of mind vanishes, replaced by the greedy, no-holds-barred consumer culture of Black Friday. This year, a number of department stores, including Target and Wal-Mart, opened their Black Friday sales to the public on Thursday night, leading many to question the morality of merging Black Friday with Thanksgiving. I think that consumers trampling one another in order to score a discounted Xbox contradicts the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Bargain-hunting Black Friday shoppers often reach an extreme point of competitiveness, resulting in violent cat-fights over discounted items and even parking spaces. This Thanksgiving night, two people were shot and wounded in Florida during a disagreement police believe was over a Wal-Mart parking spot. In Washington state, another couple was struck by an SUV while walking into a Wal-Mart. In a Sears located in Texas, crazed shoppers immediately dispersed after a punch in the face lead a man to pull out a stashed gun. This kind of behavior, despite its brutality, is considered perfectly normal for Black Friday sales. However, now that stores are slowly jumping on the Black Thursday bandwagon, these violent acts are more likely to occur on Thursday as opposed to Friday, undermining the core values of the holiday.
Although traditionalists argue that Black Friday pollutes the pure, family-oriented holiday of Thanksgiving, many say that the early store openings attract more non-traditional shoppers. These shoppers consist of entire families traveling to department stores on Thanksgiving night in order to catch the early deals. Despite the greed that reveals itself on Black Friday, extending the Black Friday deals into Thanksgiving night has, in some ways, made Black Friday shopping more of a family-oriented activity. Jerry Storch, Chief Executive of Toys R Us, said “I’ve never seen parents bring so many kids on Black Friday.”
When one thinks of Black Friday, the clichéd image of middle-aged women brawling at the overly-crowded Wal-Mart doors often comes to mind. However, maybe these extended sales are reversing the stereotypes associated with Black Friday shoppers. Black Friday is evolving into a family tradition as opposed to an individual’s greedy shopping mission, which adds a whole new perspective to Thanksgiving night sales. Although we cringe at the thought of cat fights and shootings taking place while families are shopping with their kids, perhaps the addition of a “Black Thursday Night” to the existing Black Friday will promote more family-oriented festivities and discourage the crazed, greedy reputation that is associated with Black Friday year after year.
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