Black Friday is Looming

Here in the good ol’ States, we’re getting ready for our Thanksgiving holiday. A time for people to sit with family and friends, consume far more food than any one person should in a single sitting, and then spend the rest of the day unable to get off of the couch, or even reach the remote to change the channel to anything other than football. I’d probably be more okay with this whole endeavor if it was a day of non-stop hockey programming, but, hey, it’s sportsball, and I’ve got that guy trait of “There’s a ball, I must watch” going on. It’s kind of like men are along a slightly different developmental path as most dogs (and I’m not even going to begin to pretend that men are the more advanced of the two).

Of course, not only does the holiday mean family and food consumption and football (the three F’s of the modern American Thanksgiving), but it also means the true and defined beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Not that you can’t get your holiday shopping done before that, as retailers are more than happy to remind you, but it means the start of the huge flurry. After all, in a consumerist society, nothing says “I love you” quite as much as a high-priced gift, complete with shiny paper. Not that I dislike gifts, but I’m not a fan of the mentality that says that love is shown through either the most, or just the most expensive, presents on Christmas morning.

Now, over the years, Christmas has been slowly creeping up on other holidays. It still hasn’t figured out how to get Halloween into a good choke hold, but it’s clearly whipped Thanksgiving into complacency. I remember thinking, as a child, that the Christmas season didn’t start until Santa appeared at the end of the Macy’s parade. And what did his appearance actually signify? That it was acceptable to start listening to Christmas music, and think about the day approaching. It didn’t mean that the best door busters were about the be unleashed.

Times have changed, or, at least, my understanding of them has. It was only a few years ago where a huge deal was made out of stores opening at midnight on Black Friday (because of course we had to name it something, didn’t we?). Now, there are door buster sales being advertised for starting as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving Day itself. And, as most Americans know, that means you’re going to miss at least one full half of the handegg/football games, and that’s just un-American. Especially when you’ve got such truly American teams like Detroit Pox Blankets or the Dallas Consumerists going at it. But, lo, the shiny beacon of the sale is looming, and people will clamor to get in for the best sale that they can possibly find.

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These people just found out the last $20 Blu-Ray/TV/Bucket of Lard combination is gone. It’s terrible.

It’s getting to the point where people are starting to rebel against the stores who would be brash enough to engage in this type of behavior. After all, when you’ve got righteous rage about any policy, just post about it on the internet, and a response will be forthcoming. Just look at the wonders that exact mentality has brought about for political discourse! Seriously, though, I get the anger. I get the rage. But, what I don’t get, are the people who will only hold one select store accountable (you may not like random Big Box location, but they aren’t the only one’s doing it, and they might be reactionary). I know the whole “everyone else is doing it” argument isn’t valid, but there’s actually an element of truth to it in this circumstance.

Even more to the point, I don’t understand the people who refuse to actually look at what might be the true root of the problem. In this consumer-driven culture, store hours are largely dictated by when the customers are going to make their ways through the doors. If you close at 7, and you start to see a regular trend of people who want to buy your merchandise at 7:45, you’ll start being open until 8. So, with regards to Black Thursday (I think that’s what it’s called, because, not only do we need to name things, but we aren’t allowed to be too creative), stores are opening their doors earlier and earlier, cutting into the traditional family time, but they’re doing it because they WILL have customers clamoring to get the best deals.

And here’s one of the great things. Opening on Thanksgiving Day probably won’t even help out the bottom line all that much, especially when looked at over the course of the entire holiday shopping season. People don’t have more money, they’re just going to pick and choose when they’ll spend it. Since a lot of people are fairly content to spend a couple of hours stuffing poultry and potatoes into their faces and then go shopping, any store that ISN’T open on Thursday is taking a risk that those customers will return later on in the season. The only way to stop the creep of store opening times is for nobody to ever take advantage of the earlier hours, but that just isn’t a reasonable expectation. Neither, unfortunately, is HawtWife’s idea of stores spending the Wednesday BEFORE Thanksgiving doing their massive sales, and then closing for the Thursday and Friday. There’s just too much risk, and, when you’re looking at the potential for losing out on millions, or billions, over the course of a month, you’re going to play it as safe as you can, while also making sure to not get locked out by opening too much later than your direct competitors.

But what about the workers? Look, the same way that there are a lot of people who are more than willing to get away from their families to buy a new computer, there’s a lot of people who are also willing to go off and log some hours. Especially if those hours result in a higher hourly wage, because it’s a holiday. Or, what about the people who don’t specifically have somewhere to spend the day, and therefore getting out and working a shift behind a cash register actually allows them to partake a little bit in the holiday cheer?

Listen, the way that our society has whipped people into a frenzy over the idea of a sale, and the way that stores have taken advantage of this frenzy by promising huge sales just to get you in the door on Thanksgiving, is by no means something to be proud of. But getting stores to stop opening earlier and earlier isn’t going to be an easy task, as it requires a complete societal shift. And, well, to get that kind of shift, you’ve kind of got to stop preaching to the choir.

I’ll be right there with you. Assuming that I don’t eat too much stuffing.

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