If you've ever worked in retail, you know that Black Friday is the closest thing to Hell you'll see on earth. It's called Black Friday for a reason. People end up going insane over deals they could get year round if they just paid attention.
My mother, god bless her, is the manager of a JC Penney in Ohio. She works tirelessly each day, and comes home with horror stories daily. People are ruthless in retail, and I have the experience to prove it.
I worked Black Friday alongside my tired mother in 2013. The opening team was instructed to arrive at 4:30A.M., due to the fact that everyone else was opening earlier and earlier each year. We barely got any sleep, because Thanksgiving (a time that is supposed to bring people together) was mere hours before.
We were basically giving away appliances for 10 dollars. Smoothie mixers, cooking ranges and assorted electric blenders and whatnot. People were going insane for this deal. We had people lining up outside the store gates at 4:45A.M. as we readied the store for battle.
It seemed like things would be quiet, but as soon as my mother and her colleagues opened the doors, people started to run. Up the escalator and down the aisles straight for the appliances.
It looked like the zombie apocalypse...except there weren't any zombies. The people lining up at 4:30A.M. were the monsters.
They went running, flailing through the store. Some of them were dragging their poor kids. It was chaos. Madness. And for what?
A 10 dollar griddle?
This year, Black Friday will fall right after I return to the US from a long trip abroad. I haven't seen my parents since June.
My mother has to work on Thanksgiving, since the store has to be open early in order to combat competition from other stores. How is my family supposed to have our holiday? Everyone else gets to stay home, but retail workers, who aren't being paid enough to deal with this...have to suffer and abandon their families.
Business is business.
Regardless, the few days I'm home before I move across the country, picking up for a third time this year, my mother won't be home. She'll be working, so someone somewhere can get their 10 dollar appliances.
You can say I'm a bit bitter. Can't you wait until FRIDAY to get Black Friday Deals? I guess not.
Recently REI, an outdoor retailer decided it wasn't going to participate in the ridiculous concept of Black Friday. All 143 stores will close on Black Friday, November 27th. The C.E.O. said, "Black Friday has come to mean more about shopping. The idea of being out, up on a mountain, finding snow seems a lot better."
They want people to go outside, spend time with their families and create a different kind of tradition.
Though all profit margins show that Black Friday is one of the most lucrative days of the year for REI, they decided to give all of their employees a paid day off, and forgo the potential profits for principle.
I'm pretty impressed. The advertisement and media attention alone are sure to boost sales beyond Black Friday, so it was a tactful decision as well.
I'm not saying retail is evil. I'm not saying I don't love to shop, or that I haven't participated in many Black Fridays myself. All I'm saying is, my mother won't be with us on Thanksgiving.
Aside from the madness and the stress, I just don't understand why stores have to open on Thanksgiving. Not only does it rip workers from their families, but it puts added stress on shoppers. They have to be early. They have to get there before everyone else.
Why not just cancel Thanksgiving all together?
Hopefully more stores will follow suit. I can't help but feel guilty for everyone. Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. And now it barely exists. I'm growing up, and moving away probably for good. I won't be home for Christmas unless flights magically dip below a grand. It's just another one of those things I can't control.
When capitalism is king, and people have to save more and more money each year, it's no wonder that the Thanksgiving tradition takes a back seat. It's all about survival. And we have to survive.