Written by A’Breya Young
Thanksgiving is the day families get together to share their love and appreciation for their family members—all while indulging in delicious foods and refreshing drinks. After filling our bellies and waking from a food coma, the Black Friday spirit kicks in. People all over the US drive to stores and stand in immensely long lines awaiting the doors to open. Although there are many great deals on Black Friday, store associates and their families are affected during this colossal event. My question is, is it so important to retailers that these events are held on Thanksgiving Day? Can’t it wait until the next day? I mean, it is called “Black Friday” after all.
The History Behind Black Friday
The meaning of Black Friday has changed since the mid-1900s. In 1950, workers called off the day after Thanksgiving to get an early start on the four-day weekend. Shoppers and tourists swept the cities and filled the stores. However, law enforcement was not afforded such a luxury as they were the ones who patrolled the streets and stores, keeping shoppers safe. The crowds and traffic jams this event caused, influenced the Philadelphia Police Department to name the day following Thanksgiving, Black Friday. The name later became popularized by a stamp-collector magazine called, The American Philatelists. Over the years, Philadelphia city boosters worked to change the name from Black Friday to something else because of a “historical myth”. Rumors began to surface that southern plantation owners bought slaves at a discounted rate the day after Thanksgiving, making it “Black” Friday. However, in the 1980s, retailers found a way for Black Friday to have a more positive connotation to it. They put in the minds of people that using the color black referred to profit.
Pro: Increased Engagement
Who would want to pass up major store deals? With those discounts, people can get all their Christmas shopping done and maybe get a gift for themselves. Some will go to a store they’ve never heard of just for a good sale. This tactic is still used to promote return customers long after the holiday season comes to an end.
Con: Taking A Holiday Away
For shoppers, Black Friday—which these days is Thursday—is a day of eating hefty meals then racing for the deals. However, as for retail employees, this the day is cut short, taking away time that is supposed to be spent with family. Moreover, as the shift grows longer and the sun begins to rise, workers have to deal with aggressive customers. Employees strive to make customers’ experiences welcoming. However, sometimes that is an epic failure considering their holiday is taken away coupled with rude shoppers.
Pro: Clearing The Crowd
Nowadays, nearly anything can be done through our electronic devices. Many Black Friday participants have started shopping online. According to CNN, shoppers spent a record 7.4 billion dollars on Black Friday, most of it from online shopping. So, if you decide to take part in Black Friday from the comfort and warmth of your own home, open your laptops, drink some cocoa, and imagine all the chaos in the brick and mortar stores. There would be no such animal at your home.
Con: Fighting For the Price
Ladies, imagine seeing your favorite pair of shoes, but just as you begin to walk over you see another shopper headed in the same direction. It’s a shoe race! You’re neck and neck… But she grabs the shoe first. This is an example of how shoppers could potentially leave the store with a shoe mark stamped on their faces! One shopper gave this account of her Black Friday experience, “I once saw a fight between strangers because someone changed lines. They did not cut in line, they just got behind the other line. The person in front of that person was not having it and commenced to verbally attack them.”
Should the Party End?
Black Friday has its perks and disadvantages. While people have the opportunity to get products at very low prices, other factors related to this event are taken out of the picture. As more people begin to follow this tradition, employees are forced to work longer shifts, fights break out, and people are injured. With all that said, should Black Friday continue to be an American tradition?