Editorial | Shopoholics hold nothing back to steal the deals on Black Friday
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 00:12
The term “Black Friday” is said to have originated in the 1950s when factory line managers noticed many of their employees calling in sick after their holiday off. But it was not until the 1980s when store owners across the United States noticed their balance sheets coming out of the red and into the black. It was this trend that deemed the Friday after Thanksgiving an unofficial holiday to retailers and shoppers across the country — or what we know today as “Black Friday”.
But what was once a booming day for businesses has turned into a feeding frenzy for shopaholics and thrifty bargain hunters alike. In just the past 10 years, we have seen stores opening their doors earlier and earlier. So early, in fact, that it really shouldn’t be called “Black Friday”— something more like “Black Thursday Evening” seems more fitting.
Stores like Kohl’s, WalMart and Toys “R” Us aren’t letting federal holidays get in the way. This year, countless retailers opened their doors late Thanksgiving Day — except those in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, of course, where this is illegal.
The Editorial Board of The Miami Student wonders what kind of effect this has on the employees of stores like WalMart and Kohl’s. We even wonder what kind of people would have the desire to pass up a turkey coma to shop ‘til they drop.
But what is more concerning to us is the violence seen in all parts of the country over the weekend. Black Friday shoppers come armed with stun guns and pocketknives and apparently have every intention of using them.
Take Philadelphia’s Franklin Mills Mall incident for example. Two women were caught on camera fighting over merchandise. In the video captured by a bystander, you can even hear and see a stun gun being used by one of the women. The video also shows a baby stroller within inches of the brawl and another fist fight in the background. This all happened at 2 a.m. Friday.
In Los Angeles, a fight broke out between three WalMart shoppers late Thursday outside the store. Witnesses said the three individuals were arguing about cutting the line when police officers arrived to break up the fight. According to CBS, “A police officer who attempted to intervene suffered minor injuries.” Two people were arrested and police were posted outside the Rialto WalMart until the end of the day Friday.
And finally, in suburban Chicago, bullets were fired when a suspected shoplifter tried to flee a Kohl’s department store via a get-away car. A responding officer was struggling with the suspected shoplifter as he got into his get-away car when the vehicle slowly started driving with the police officer was still partially in the car. “The officer was dragged quite some distance. He couldn’t get out,” said Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey. Police shot at the driver of the get-away car until it stopped moving. The driver and police officer were taken to a nearby hospital.
Watching Black Friday madness unfold is like watching a bad car accident. And while it may be hard for most of us to rationalize getting in a fist fight over a toaster oven, the Editorial Board can’t see next year’s Black Friday getting any better. We are worried this do-anything-to-get-a-good-deal mentality is seeping its way into American culture whether we like it or not.
The fact that these mega-stores are forcing their employees to work on a holiday that is specifically intended to be spent with family should be appalling to us all. Yet people are still waiting in line for hours on end to buy things they really don’t even need; isn’t Thanksgiving supposed to be a day where we express gratitude for the things we already have, not hoard more? For this reason, we think about the kids who have to spend Thanksgiving without their parents or siblings because they were called in to work.
But then we also think about the fact that businesses are able to literally rack in billions of dollars in just a few hours. CEO of WalMart USA Bill Simon reported this year’s Black Friday was the best ever for the super-store, with approximately 10 million register transactions during a four-hour window on Thursday night and “sales remaining strong throughout Friday.” Last year, consumer spending on Black Friday totaled $59.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. 307 million consumers shopped in stores or online on Black Friday, averaging to about $423 spent by each individual shopper last year on Black Friday.
There is no doubt businesses have a lot to gain by opening at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, but forcing workers and encouraging shoppers to leave their families on such a reverent holiday is an emerging trend our society should challenge.