As someone that is both a huge fan of electronics and computers, it excites me to see things on sale for cheap. And as a huge proponent of capitalism I find myself always championing the right to have a competitive economy and for people and companies to compete with one another to make money. But it seems that this whole Black Friday madness has gone too far. Sure, I’ve participated as a consumer on the Black Friday side of things, and a few years ago I even went to a midnight Black Friday shopping event. But things have gone too far.
I have seen people going out and camping for days upon days on end in order to get their hands on some perceived deal. I’m witnessing certain stores starting to open on Thanksgiving Day in order to somehow start their holiday shopping season earlier by 12 hours. I am really ashamed of what we’ve come to and where we could be going with such a trend. While certain businesses like Costco will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, meanwhile Target stores open at 8 pm on Thanksgiving day and Best Buy even bests them with a 6 pm opening. What the hell?
Think about this for a second, if the stores are opening at 6 and 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day, that means the people that are going to be working there have to come in an hour or two minimum earlier to prepare for the opening and I’m sure that’s a conservative estimate. There are probably people that will have to come in even earlier. The worst part is that at places like Best Buy those employees are REQUIRED by their employment contracts to work on Black Friday. This means that they will be terminated if they do not work a shift during Black Friday. That means that some of these people (Best Buy employs 180,000 people) will not have an opportunity to have a Thanksgiving Dinner with their families.
While I don’t like the idea of Midnight openings either, at least they give people an opportunity to spend time with their friends and family on Thanksgiving Day. With these new opening times, they simply rip that chance from people’s hands. And I can tell you as someone that worked at Best Buy on Black Friday, most of the deals are a complete and utter joke. The stores (not just Best Buy) will only stock 5 of a certain item at the advertised price and they’re generally special SKUs specifically made for Black Friday that are usually stripped of a lot of features in order to bring the cost of the product down.
A good example of this is when Best Buy introduced the $299 laptop (pre-Chromebook era) and people were preparing to kill each other for these things even though they basically had the absolute crappiest 1336×768 resolution and an Intel Celeron CPU with 4GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. Similar things were done with TVs with the ‘special’ TV being almost identical to a much more expensive model but only had ONE HDMI port while all the standard TVs had four HDMI ports and multiple other connections. If you think about all of the time people waste waiting in these incredibly long lines for these questionably half-ass deals, you will realize that they could have earned that price difference by simply working the same period of time. People simply don’t do the cost benefit analysis and get caught up in the craziness of the deals.
Another thing that bothered me recently was that I went in to Game Stop and had asked them if they had any Xbox Ones in stock. They obviously said no, but I wanted to check anyways. I then asked if I could pre-order one or for some sort of reservation system. She then excitedly told me that they don’t do that, but that they will be getting in more Xbox Ones on Black Friday and that they open at midnight. This was a perfect example of a company intentionally trying to fuel the Black Friday madness by not only releasing stock of a hotly desired item on the busiest shopping day of the year, but doing it at midnight to reinforce the urgency of the sale. I’m not sure if she was crazy or just brainwashed by her job, but I don’t think anyone is excited to work on Black Friday, especially when your store opens at midnight.
While I won’t chastise anyone for going shopping for legitimately good deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday (my preferred shopping day), I think that if we shop during these pre-Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day sales we are encouraging these companies to continue to force these people to give up their Thanksgiving Holiday with their family. We are encouraging this behavior to such a degree with our wallets that we are going to entirely erase Thanksgiving Day as a holiday entirely and that’s a horrifically sad thing.