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Thanksgiving – a time to get together with family … a time to count our blessings and actually give thanks for the things we have … a time to watch the Macy’s Parade, eat a huge meal and then watch football (or a holiday movie, as we do in the Rovins household).
Because it is a long weekend for many, Thanksgiving is a time to get the Christmas decorations down from the attic and to start decorating our house. We do that on the long weekend – keeping our tree up from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day (or later – depending how lazy I am after the holidays).
Despite the fact that we actually began seeing holiday commercials BEFORE Halloween this year, Thanksgiving has always marked the start of the holiday season. And for millions – the long weekend will mean standing in line, shopping all night (and all day) and looking for bargains.
One thing we could count on when I was growing up – was that stores and businesses would be closed on Thanksgiving. We always knew that if we didn’t have everything we needed by about 4 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving, we were out of luck. Now – grocery stores are open late the night before Thanksgiving and many are open for at least a few hours on Thanksgiving Day.
The day after Thanksgiving – Friday – has always been a day for retail sales to kick start the season. The term “Black Friday” actually got its name in Philadelphia. The city’s police department gave the day that name in the mid-60s because of the traffic and gridlock the downtown experienced on the day after Thanksgiving. In the 70s, retailers used the day to try to jump start sales. It was during the Carter presidency that Black Friday shopping was used as a way to combat a predicted slump in holiday shopping. Sound familiar?
And now, frankly, it’s out of control. Black Friday shopping just expands and expands. At first, stores opened at 5 a.m., then 4 a.m. Over the past couple of years retailers have pushed back the start time – to midnight. And this year – multiple retailers are planning their Black Friday events to start as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
This year, because there’s more of an encroachment into Thanksgiving – there has been some pushback on retailers who plan early openings. Walmart employees have been threatening actions against the retail giant on Black Friday, and have gained support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. A group of Target employees launched a petition drive this year to try to get that retailer to curtail its expanded hours into Thanksgiving. As of Sunday night – that petition had nearly 350,000 signatures.
But for all the talk, we know that people will be lining up hours ahead of whatever time the stores plan to open – waiting to get a deal on that item they just have to have.
For all the talk about improvement in the economy, I see these Black Friday events as an almost panicked reaction to a struggling economy. Expand the hours, offer deals and hope that it is enough to push the retail industry into the “red.”
I certainly don’t have a lot of expendable income. But rather than look for deals on stuff we don’t need, I try to get the kids something they really want without breaking the bank. I understand the temptation of a huge screen television with a “doorbuster” price. I get that when there isn’t a lot of expendable cash, we look for deals everywhere we can. I want a new computer monitor this year, and am looking for a good price on the size I want.
Would I stand in line for it, fight crowds for it? I don’t think so, but it would depend how good the price was.
I have gone Black Friday shopping exactly twice. The first time was kind of fun. We went at 5 a.m., got one item, had breakfast and left. The second time was no fun at all: midnight to 5 a.m. – too many people and I didn’t like shopping when I should have been sleeping. More temptation to spend … just because.
With non-stop ads, and social media blitzes, there is a pressure to feel like we HAVE to be out there, that we’re missing something if we’re not. OK, we might not find a computer monitor for $40, but in my experience, there are just as many deals in the days following Black Friday as there are on that day.
This year Palmer told me he wanted to go Black Friday shopping with his friends. And even though he told me later he was just kidding, I used it as one of those “mom moments” with my kids. Just because we see these ads that make it look like it’s so much fun, and that we’re missing something if we’re not out there – it’s all advertising designed to bolster another sagging industry.
And of course – as I told Palmer – you definitely can’t have fun if you don’t have the money to spend!
I already have about half of my shopping on layaway this year. So I have already made progress. Pay day doesn’t jive with Black Friday this year, so I’ll be doing something else on Black Friday – maybe seeing a movie with the kids … as long as the theater isn’t anywhere near a mall or retail center!
Are you a Black Friday shopper? Tell us why you do it, and share the best deal you have ever gotten in your shopping adventures.