Over the last couple of weeks, I have done some ranting about Black Friday and also, Black Thursday. While I still have a serious issue with retail stores that sell unnecessary items being open on Thanksgiving, I am coming around to the reasons why Black Friday can be pretty great and also, very needed for people on a limited budget for the holiday season. I will never say that anyone being trampled over an iPod is a good thing but when it’s orderly and handled properly, Black Friday gives people a chance to buy gifts they might not have been able to afford otherwise. Realizing that changes my mind a little about it’s place in our culture.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Consider these opposite scenarios: In 2013, Bloomingdale’s went against the grain by offering fewer Black Friday bargains than the year before, according to the advertising experts at bestblackfriday.com. At a Wal-Mart in Duarte, customers elbowed one another to get their hands on Crayola crayon sets, marked down to $11 from nearly $20. (A trending Twitter hashtag last Thanksgiving was #WalmartFights.)
“You have people who really need a bargain — they will sit out for two days to get that deal because that may be the only big thing they can afford for the whole family,” said Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. “Luxury retailers don’t do very well on Black Friday because their customers are not going to fight the crowds.”
I will admit that I have never shopped early on Black Friday- I usually go out at some point but not until much later in the day. I am by no means wealthy, but I am comfortable to a point where saving $9 on a set of crayons is not nearly enough to motivate me to deal with the early-morning crowds. I always viewed Black Friday as a time for gross consumerism to be on full display and never really considered that those deep deals might be the only way some people can give their kids a good Christmas. I suppose I have always noticed that the higher end retailers do not go crazy opening at midnight but figured it was because they could not offer deals good enough to entice people. Embarrassingly, I never thought of the fact that their clientele are simply able to sit back and wait until a decent hour instead of fighting the crowds in the wee hours to save a few bucks.
So here I am, tail between my legs. I’m sorry I was so focused on my hate for Black Friday that I could not understand why it can be a good thing. I feel sad now that I never considered what a strong motivation someone could have to buy their child or close family member what they want for Christmas and still be able to buy gas and groceries. I do hope that people are careful and relatively calm so no one is injured when everyone rushes the door but I see now why this has to happen. I wish it weren’t the case and that retailers offered these steep discounts for longer than one morning but I am glad people have some chance to get that big gift for a loved one where they might not have been able to otherwise.