sick of shopping
'Tis (almost) the season: Black Friday ruins whatever it can
“Earlier-than-ever” seems to be the marketing industry's answer to the recession that kept 2008-9 in the dumps: last year’s trend of stores opening earlier on Black Friday will continue this year.
In 2010, we saw a minor improvement over 2009, in terms of economy-boosting spending; eager holiday shoppers doled out $45 billion, up from '09’s $41.5 billion, in part because of the success of big box retail’s strategy to open the second Thanksgiving is over.
Retailers are hoping that this weekend will give them the bump they've been looking for. Although last year was an improvement, it wasn’t quite the big boost the economy needed. Many are expecting sales to be higher, but for profits to hover around last year's low-but-respectable turnout.
This year, a large chunk of the Black Friday shoppers will be at the stores before dinner is completely digested. You’ve been hearing about the stores opening at midnight, but many will actually be open late on Thanksgiving until regular hours on Friday.
Some of the behemoths who are going to open at the stroke of midnight are Best Buy, Macy’s and Target. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and condemn the lunatics who are already camping out in front of Targets and Best Buys, but I’m broke and my TV has a built-in VCR, so I can understand doing something demoralizing for a 42” flatscreen under $200.
But for some, Black Friday is a time to mourn losing time with family. You’ve already read about Anthony Hardwick’s petition to lend a small bit of sanity to Black Friday, giving the Target employees a break. The stores that will open Thanksgiving night will force employees to start work sometime in the afternoon, and some will have to work through the night into Friday's sacred leftover lunchtime.
Truly, it is my friends working at various retail stores this season that my heart goes out to. They’ve already put in extra hours this week, and the ones that don’t have to travel to see family are the lucky ones. Chances are, this year the sales associates and cashiers are going to be cutting family time shorter than ever one way or the other.
Whether you were camping outside of a Best Buy looking forward to the Black Friday deals, inside Target the night of Thanksgiving bracing yourself against the Black Friday onslaught or safely inside your home with your loved ones, American consumption is doing whatever it can to take us away from our families this holiday season. For some, certainly, it’s a blessing. For others, their only choice is to show up to work and be thankful for what small family time they get.