Black Friday shopping: Excessive consumerism or a great time for bargains?
A time to be thankful, not greedy
Planning to trample, race or even throw a punch in order to get a discount on a toaster is no way to spend the day after you’ve given thanks for all you already have. Although, some stores are even pushing their Black Friday sales back to Thanksgiving day.
Stores like Macy’s, Best Buy, and Walmart are starting their Black Friday sales as early as Thursday night. After you’ve rolled away from the table of leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, you can waddle to Walmart, which opens at 8 p.m., to get a jump on your Christmas shopping. After all, once turkey dinner is officially over it’s on to the next holiday season.
The relaxing evening of being surrounded by your family or friends and appreciating all you’re blessed with is a thing of the past. No one wants to sit around eating grandma’s pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream when they can stand in line outside a store waiting to sprint for their desired wish list item.
Gone is setting up camp in the early hours for the 5 a.m. opening of the store with the best deals. Now you can do all your Christmas shopping before midnight. Toys R Us pushed its Black Friday hours back an hour from last year to 9 p.m., which means Santa can buy presents before the Christmas season even begins.
Forget about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans’ generosity on which the holiday is based. These days it’s all about the cheapest game or best TV. Don’t forget your pepper spray. Those TVs go fast.
Last year, violence during Black Friday shopping was seen in at least seven states, including 10 people in California being exposed to pepper spray by a woman trying to snag an Xbox game console. There have even been reports of tramplings and shootings in past years. No deal is worth that.
There is even backlash by consumers and store employees who have to cut their national holiday short in order to be armed and ready for the stampede of super shoppers.
There are online petitions for Target and Walmart to postpone the opening hours in order for employees to salvage a few more thankful moments with their families. Retailers say Thanksgiving Day shopping is what consumers want, but sometimes the parenting approach should be taken: you can’t always get what you want.
Thanksgiving, sandwiched between the candy-induced coma of Halloween and the gifts and glamour of Christmas, is intended to be a time when one can reflect on life and think about what he or she is thankful for.
The meaning of Thanksgiving is to be grateful to God for the blessings in one’s life. While naps or football are usually involved, not to mention second helpings, the real meaning of the day is God. Set aside time to pray and give thanks to Him, not time to outline your battle plan for the mall.
Great deals, great time for bonding
I’m not generally a morning person, but I make an exception on Black Friday.
Every Thanksgiving, after a nice tryptophan-and-football-induced nap, my mom, sisters and I take to the newspaper. We spread the sleek ads across the dining room table and start devising our game plan for the biggest shopping day of the year.
The trick to a successful Black Friday shopping experience is organization.This is no time for frivolous window-shopping. This is the big league. You get in, get what you need and get out. Many who dislike Black Friday shopping just aren’t doing it right, and if you walk into Target at 4 a.m. without a strategy, you’re going to have a bad time.
My 14-year-old sister, Katelyn, and I have our strategy down to a science. It starts the night before, when we map out our goal items at each store. We have to plan for which stores open when, and be sure that if we want a hot-ticket item, we’re in line when the doors open.
Our secret weapon is the buddy system. The second we walk into a store, Katelyn goes straight to the back of the line at the register. It doesn’t take long for a line to wrap around the entire store a few times, so getting in line right away is the only way to ensure that too much time isn’t wasted in one store.
For Katelyn and I, Black Friday shopping is a bonding experience. Since I’ve been at college, we don’t see much of each other, so I treasure the opportunity to grow closer through the experience of surviving chaotic consumerism. We get up early together, in solidarity with all of the other bargain-hunters, and we hit the stores for the best deals.
No matter who you’re with, one of the most important aspects of Black Friday shopping is celebrating wins and accepting losses. No matter how tight your strategy, chances are not all of the items you planned on getting will be there. Be open-minded. I’ve found some of the coolest gifts just by taking a look around when what I came in for sold out. Adaptability is just part of the experience.
Black Friday shopping also fits nicely into the college student budget. As the oldest of five siblings, I have many presents to buy on a very tight budget. With the Black Friday deals, I can afford to get presents for my family that might not otherwise be manageable.
The widespread perception of Black Friday shopping is an uncontrollable mass mob of coupon-clipping crazies, but the reality is different. With a positive attitude and an organized strategy, Black Friday is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just like any other shopping day but with longer lines and less make-up.
Regardless of the outcome of your Black Friday shopping experience, nothing beats coming home to that leftover turkey in the fridge.