On the day after Thanksgiving every year, millions of Americans (including me) go Black Friday shopping. According to USA Today, 164 million Americans leave their homes early Friday morning to score deals from major retailers.
One year in particular, my siblings and I went extra early to the shops, arriving at about 8 a.m. We went to the Polaris Mall and then to Best Buy and Target. In reality, I wanted to go more for the experience than to buy any particular item.
I saw people stacking their cars with anything from 60” TVs and tens of Bath and Body Works candles, to endless amounts of clothing and countless pairs of shoes. The most aggressive shoppers came at the beginning of the day, and the shops were left bare by midafternoon.
By the end of the day, I had purchased some clothes, accessories, and cosmetics, none of which I still use now. It was fun, but it was also exhausting.
Looking back on that experience makes me question Black Friday. Although the day can be exciting and there are plenty of deals, the whole affair strikes me as ironic.
The day after we are thankful to God and celebrate our appreciation for what we have with our families, we go out and buy millions of dollars’ worth of consumer goods. One could even say that Black Friday is hypocritical. If we were really thankful, we wouldn’t have the need to go out and buy more.
Many of these items aren’t even things that we truly need. The coveted technological gadgets that people wake up at dawn for will be replaced by newer, shinier models the next year, and the vast majority of fast fashion won’t last more than several washes.
Still, people are convinced these items are necessities, so much so that they are willing to fight for them. Workers and shoppers can get trampled in the early morning rush or hurt by people who want the last item on the shelf. Since 2006, 10 people have died and 105 more have been injured while going Black Friday shopping.
What fuels the need for Black Friday is understandable. People want to save as much money as possible, especially with the holidays coming up. However, Black Friday deals aren’t all that impressive if you take a deeper look.
Retail stores commonly offer 40 percent off or buy two get the third free, according to forbes.com, deals which can actually be found at other times in the year. Besides, the best way to save money isn’t to look for a sale: it’s to not buy anything at all.
In the months leading up to the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in a consumerist frenzy, especially when there are still Christmas presents to be bought (and companies look to boost their fourth quarter earnings). On the other hand, it’s important to remember the intent of all these holidays.
Thanksgiving should be an opportunity to simply be grateful for all the wonderful people and things in your life and to spend time with your loved ones. If anything, the holiday season should be a time to take a break from our fast-paced consumerist society, not further it.
Although it can be fun, this year, I’m going to skip Black Friday shopping to focus on what Thanksgiving should be all about.