When I clicked on the news this morning, there was a story about people in Pennsylvania already camping out for Black Friday. Yes, late Sunday night people were already setting up tents and sleeping bags, coolers and grills, outside of Best Buy. They said that they don’t even know what the Black Friday sales are going to be, but they want to be ready to take advantage of those deep discounts.
Okay, I know that we’re living in a down economy, money is tight, and Black Friday sales are the only way some people can afford certain things. But can we walk this back a little bit? If these people can camp out for close to a week, they either A. don’t work and have disposable income, and could probably afford to pay full price for the things they actually need, B. don’t have jobs and can’t afford to spend the money they have on luxury goods, and should probably be spending this time looking for work, or C. have jobs and are using their vacation days to live outside in the cold in order to save a few bucks. All of it, to me, adds up to madness.
Experience tells me the correct answer for a lot of those folks is D. they’ll buy as many super-cheap items as possible and then resell them on eBay for a modest profit. Which, if you’re unemployed and need the money doesn’t seem like such a bad scheme.
It bothers me how readily people are willing to dance to the retail stores’ tunes, to be manipulated and jerked around. Why do these sales have to start at weird times like midnight or 4 AM? Could they not open at a normal time and still offer the same discounts? Could they not offer a trickle of deep discounts all year long, which would seem a better strategy than putting all hope for their bottom line on last quarter sales figures? Isn’t there a better way than the hype that leads to crazy behavior, with mass eruptions of rudeness that occasionally erupt into injury and violence? Aren’t Black Friday sales irresponsible on a number of levels?
Black Friday diminishes us. It devalues the reasons for the season. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude, not a staging area for a shopping spree. The season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, or some other holiday, is not supposed to be about unchecked consumerism. Buying stuff does not equate to spending quality time with family and friends. Why can’t we show our love and appreciation of family and friends in ways other than the acquisition of material goods? Why can’t we just share meals together, engage in conversation with one another, plays games, watch movies or football, and spend real quality time together?