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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Black Weekend

My Black Friday Thoughts

It has always been a tradition in my house to go out shopping during the early morning hours of
Black Friday for my mother. In more recent years I joined her, helping pick things out for my younger brothers and buying a few things for myself. But this year was different for a few reasons.

Last year stores like Macy's, Target and Walmart opened late on Thursday, successfully getting under the skin of many Americans celebrating Thanksgiving with their families, but this merely set the precedence for this year when we have some of them opening their doors at 6 p.m of Thanksgiving. Stores like JC Penney even played TV ads telling consumers to forget about their Thanksgiving dishes and get out there and shop! Mark my words, soon stores like Walmart will be opening at 3 p.m., customers will be lining up at noon, and Thanksgiving dinner will merely be brunch. Various news outlets did man-on-the-street pieces, asking shoppers how they felt about the seemingly here to stay Gray Thursday. Some expressed their disgust and sympathy for those working in retail, who would miss a considerable amount of time with their families during the holiday, while others showed no remorse, saying those workers should appreciate the holiday pay and shoppers should make Gray Thursday a new family tradition. 

But I didn't hear many people talking about the desperation of those shoppers. Those who can afford to buy a 50 inch TV at regular price any time of the year won't feel the same pull to leave their family to stand in line for that same TV at $370 off the original sale price. I felt the same pull and desperation because I wanted two big ticket items that I would other wise not be able to afford. So  my cousin, my brother and I left our Thanksgiving party early, I bailed out on my boyfriend's family just to stand in line for these deals! I got what I wanted but I honestly still feel guilty about it and I don't believe I will stand in another 'Gray Thursday' line until  I have to shop for my children and even then I don't know that I will. 

I'm not here to preach about the evils of Black Friday because everyone knows I love to shop, I can't say no to a deal, but I hate what those Thursday Deals did to me! They also did some pretty horrible things to other people around the country. The desperation that the stores are feeling, according to an article on retailers hit a decline in sales right before Black Friday and this year has been the first decline in sales on this weekend since the recession of 2009, has gotten into consumers who are literally fighting over products in stores! 
All you have to do is Google Black Friday and you will see the carnage that has happened in Walmart all over the country. There are masses of people, resembling the horrific zombie scenes from the box office thriller World War Z rushing the Walmart doors and electronics sections. But these aren't zombies, they're blood thirsty consumers scratching and clawing and man handling each other over $98 32'' TV's and $29 tablets. It's not like it's a surprise though, Walmart has historically had the highest level of foolery on Black Friday. The funny thing is that in a lot of the videos you will see Walmart employees demanding that customers stop recording the madness. But how can you ask people not to show and tell the world what is happening in these stores ALL across the country, especially when our generation shows and tells everything! I guess Walmart is trying to keep their dirty secrets under-wraps but it's not working!! No other store that I have been in was this way. Target gives their guests granola bars, encourages their guests to remain calm. Big ticket shoppers are given a voucher to reduce the chances of brawls and the store is neatly sectioned off to direct the flow of traffic. But then again Target's deals aren't as good as Walmart, on Black Friday or any other day.

It could be because stores like Walmart offer the best deals to those who are less fortunate and the most desperate to deliver the goods on Christmas morning. The rich and well educated are not the ones stampeding the retailers doors, it's the American poor. Sure the retailers are pushing us to the edge by opening earlier and earlier but you can't just blame it all on them. This economy and our shallow pockets are doing the real pushing.
This shot from World War Z looks a lot
 like the footage of Black Friday shoppers...

And despite the desperation and the madness retailers are saying that they did not reach their expected sales quota, which will force them to extend cyber Monday sales and possibly make more deals within the next three weeks to make up for this weekend. I completely understand this. From what I saw, outside of TV's and gaming consoles, the deals weren't as good as last year. After I left Target, many of the door busters in JC Penney, which was ravaged after a few hours last year, were still in the store well into Friday. A lot of the appliances they sold for an unbelievable $8.99 last year were sold at $9.99 (AFTER a $10 mail in rebate). Needless to say all of those griddles and blenders were still stacked to the ceiling. People might be desperate but they aren't stupid. When it's hard to get a job or when your employers don't want to give you a raise after 15 years of service your holiday shopping becomes very precise. Not too many people will be picking up anything extra, especially if its not truly a deal. 

I really wonder what Thanksgiving/ Black Friday weekend will look like next year and the years to come. My hopes are that the stores won't continue to open earlier and earlier and that people will slow down on the violence inside and outside of these stores on this retail weekend but I doubt any of this will happen. But hey, a girl can dream...


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