Every year, billions of dollars exchange hands during an all-out war between retail giants dubbed “Black Friday”. Whether sitting before a computer or sleeping in Best Buy’s parking, millions of shoppers will participate in the event widely considered a bizarre yet business friendly financial bloodbath.
By definition, the term Black Friday was arguable the darkest moment during an era when the United States was forming (or attempting to form) some semblance of a financial dynasty around precious metals – 146 years ago, to be precise. The scandal, purported by two gold prospectors trying to control the prices on NYSE, was one of many during Grant’s presidential tenure. But thanks to an article appearing in the December 1st, 1961 Shortsville-Manchester Enterprise describing how local police coined Black Friday as the official first day of shopping post-Thanksgiving, the term was restored to a less sinister method of usage.
It’s meaning is still valid in it’s original form for some, however, even to this day. Just replace gold with retailing and mix in some MMA.
I’m bloody, but look what I bought!
Tablets. Clothing. New bicycles. Shoppers will stop at nothing to get a once-a-year deal, even paying for another shopper’s place in line (I was offered $1,500 for my place in line during the PS3 fiasco at Best Buy – I respectfully declined then gave it up for free to a cute little family hellbent on getting their kids one). I once witnessed four women shoving and slugging it out over a $19.99 radio control car during a routine trip to Radio Shack for AA batteries. A damn radio control car.
Post-turkey day horror stories from Bangor to Bellingham are mounting. Google “black friday arrests” and watch in amazement as some of today’s smartest adults engage in public idiocy (adults who are to lead by example, mind you) and go buck-wild over a special buy when, in essence, smart shopping (and saving money all year long) would render the same great deals that denizens of hungry shoppers will be seeking.
Whether you go to jail for slapping other shoppers in line is moot to the benefactors of Black Friday. Sales will go on, shoppers will continue lining up for a $1.00 pair of slinky panties. Ambulatory care will be sought out, and society’s children either get, will get (close to), or never get what they want. Sure, you may be awaiting trial for the brutal beating of a 70-year old woman after she cut in line at Target, but Little Johnny will get his iPad Mini. It’s like 50 Shades of Stupidity, the unedited version.
Our sadistic wanderlust shopping habits have perverted the meaning of Christmas, and you can watch that statement unfold live on YouTube Saturday morning.
Taking back Black Friday
Most retailers operating 2015 in the red will finally see profits. Huge profits, in fact. But some retailers are starting the holiday shopping frenzy on the bench – or halfway up the Catskills.
Take REI, who is literally walking out on Black Friday, closing all stores and paying 1,900+ employees to shirk the madness and enjoy the great wide open. Although they’re the only major retailer to publicly announce their intent to defect from the norm, several dozen others will close their doors on Thanksgiving and re-open for Black Friday. Walmart intends on capitalizing by beginning their official holiday shopping fiasco at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, easily cutting the throats of those whom dare test the constitution of the mighty retailer.
Society, of course, will always be a sucker for deals. $245 55″ televisions, price drops on iPads, you name it. Retail chains would probably laugh if you suggested their sales stop, but with a strong business model, Black Friday would be a mere ‘technicality’, right? Instead, rising gas prices in the earlier part of 2015 caused many retailers to raise prices. When their prices go up, humanity shops elsewhere. Now that oil has traded low, holiday binge shopping is in full force.
We all know there are hidden motives behind Black Friday. Company has overstock, CEO wants to see more profitable items fly off the shelves and is willing to sacrifice the low margin items to pull it off. Is it worth getting battered in 30 degree weather to secure a deal for your family? I think not.
The only way we’re taking back Black Friday is if the unlikely (or impossible) happens: retail goods become non-taxable. Until then, protect yourself out there, all ye faithful deal seekers.