Many Americans participate in the annual shopping experience called Black Friday, an unofficial holiday after Thanksgiving used by corporations to entice buyers into purchasing their goods at mediocre discount prices.
Lines of people desperately waiting to get into certain stores wrap across the length of the malls. Black Friday also usually brings a surge of violence, since fights over high-demand products aren’t uncommon, there have been 10 deaths and 105 injuries recorded in the United States, according to the Black Friday Death Count website.
What drives American people to such lengths on Black Friday that they are willing to camp out in line for hours, run, fight, and even kill for a good deal?
Consumerism is the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods. It’s the force within American shoppers that makes us want to go out and buy the best clothes, the newest items, and latest models of technologies. It’s a side effect of our capitalist system, but also has psychological roots. Isolation and loneliness make us want to purchase meaningless objects to fill an empty emotional void. During the actual event, people see waiting in lines as a fun ritual, not a boring wait. For some people, the thrill of the possibility of fighting for your shopping haul only makes it more exciting, according to an article by Rebecca Greenfield in theatlantic.com.
Black Friday takes advantage of consumerism and the average American’s lust for material items by slashing the cost of items down a few dollars and advertising them like no tomorrow. Black Friday is such a success is because it unofficially marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, as it starts the night of Thanksgiving. Many shoppers use this night not only to buy for themselves, but to buy gifts for their loved ones for the upcoming holidays. Even though there is more than a month left to buy gifts, society feels compelled to buy all their gifts on that night. Black Friday also comes earlier every year; it was originally on Friday, then popular retailers and malls used to open around midnight or even later, but now most stores open in the early evening of Thursday. This is a problem for many people since it cuts into Thanksgiving dinner time, and people leave their friends and families just to go spend money.
Black Friday price cuts may seem like a big deal, but they’re only facades for the scams stores pull to lure customers in. Retailers purposely put out smaller amounts of items so the demand for them goes up. Items of popular demand most likely cannot be rain-checked to purchase for a later time if they run out. Even if they run out, the top brands usually aren’t advertised during Black Friday. The TVs and other high-tech appliances that are discounted are usually from a cheap or unknown brand. For example, Samsung brand 3D Smart-TVs with a huge screen size never really see a deep price cut. What’s being advertised instead are the smaller, lesser-known brands nobody really dreams of owning.
The holiday itself encourages overspending and indulgence in material items, distracting society from being grateful for the people you love and the things you already have.
If you are going to participate in Black Friday, be a smart shopper and make sure the big price cuts you see aren’t just covering for a scam. Be aware in huge crowds of people, and have fun. Take time to appreciate your friends and family, since it is Thanksgiving and they need love too. Do not go out and buy a TV instead of spending quality time with the ones you love.