Shootings over parking spaces. Pepper spray as a shopping strategy. Death by trampling. Every year, without fail, Black Friday brings out the worst in Americans.
I have always found it ironic that the greedfest of Black Friday immediately follows our cultural day devoted to being thankful for our blessings. The hypocrisy of the situation does not portray America favorably anyway, but as the corporate trend of bleeding opening hours into Thanksgiving Day progresses, any remaining sanctity of the holiday is in jeopardy.
The once-harmless tradition of ringing in the Christmas shopping season has warped into a gross exhibition of American consumerism and greed. We, as a society, should halt Black Friday’s cultural acceleration before the Thanksgiving holiday becomes completely lost in the commercial shuffle.
Before 2000, stores commonly opened at 6 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving, but as the demand for jumpstarted Christmas shopping increased, the time was continually pushed into the pre-sunrise hours. In 2011, several major stores (including Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Kohl’s) announced that they would open at midnight, thus beginning an irrevocable trend of competition among retailers.
No stores want to lose out on potential customers during the biggest shopping weekend of the year, so they continue to open earlier every year, infringing more and more on employees’ abilities to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. Last year, in 2012, Wal-Mart set a new record by opening its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, thus pushing its competition to follow suit this year.
As major retail stores’ opening times creep into Thanksgiving, Americans are steadily losing the sense of the situation’s absurdity in their desperation for a retail fix. Stores are never going to stop competing for the earliest opening times if the demand still exists; the Thanksgiving holiday is at risk of being completely overshadowed by bargain hunters in the next few years.
Now is the time to ask ourselves this: is getting the best deal on a piece of merchandise really worth compromising quality family time at Thanksgiving and subjecting ourselves to potentially dangerous situations?
Only the American people can remedy the downward spiral of early opening times. If we continue to attend Thanksgiving Day sales in massive numbers, corporations will react accordingly until our country’s traditional day of thanks is nothing more than a coupon-clipping festival. We should not support the companies who are planning to open on Thanksgiving Day this year because, in doing so, we are okaying the encroachment of commercialism into yet another endangered day once reserved solely for family togetherness.
By all means, go Black Friday shopping, but wait until 6 a.m. on Friday. The best deals may be gone by then this year, but perhaps staying home will help decrease the demand for even earlier openings next year. By doing our part to counteract early openings, we can preserve one whole day devoted to reminding ourselves of what blessings we already have before we launch out to binge-buy cheap technology.
Together, we can make Black Friday a little less bleak.
September Symens is a junior English and journalism major from Omaha, Neb.