My Annual Black Friday Boycott

Today I am celebrating National Buy Nothing Day.  A great thanks to adbusters for this image.  

Black Friday
The day when retailers move back into the black and out the red by consumers lured by cheap video games, door busters, and chintzy things that have been overpriced all year.  Black Friday, the dreaded shopping holiday in America that follows the massive eating holiday.  We may as well be on a consuming frenzy.  When my husband started working in retail five years ago I began to boycott Black Friday, although before that I had only been out once on Black Friday in the past.  What I saw was not pretty.  My sister and I ventured into the scary land of Walmart, which I will admit is something I have only done a couple times in my life.  While searching for a parking spot, we actually saw a car cut in front of a van and steal a parking spot.  People in the van spilled out, running up to the car, knocking on windows and yelling obscenities.  It was the perfect example of why not to shop on Black Friday.

Take any of these reasons to avoid the stores and malls on Black Friday:

  • 66% of consumers said they shopped for themselves on Black Friday, according to Consumer Reports.  
  • In 2009, Black Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year, but not the day with the most sales. That honor would go to the Saturday before Christmas, according to the U.S. News & World Report.
  • People are getting up earlier and earlier to shop.  
    • Stores open on Thanksgiving Day: CVS, Kmart (6 am), Michael’s, Sear’s (7 am), Walgreen’s (9 am), Gander Mountain (9 am),Toy R Us (10 pm)
    • Stores open at 12 am: Old Navy
    • Stores open at 3 am: Kohl’s
    • Stores open at 4 am: Macy’s, Target, Belk, JCPenney
    • Stores open at 5 am:  Best Buy, Cabela’s, Sam’s Club

So if the store opens at say 3 am, what time do you think the employees are there preparing for the mad rush of Black Friday?  Is this how you would want to spend the day after Thanksgiving, ringing up frantic shoppers?  Not to mention meltdowns, rude behavior, and demanding attitudes from consumers.

Consumers Behaving Poorly

  • The worst was in 2008 when an estimated throng of 2,000 Walmart shoppers in Valley Steam, N.Y. — who were waiting for such bargains as a 42-inch LCD HDTV for $598 — broke through the doors, knocked over temporary store worker Jdimytai Damour and trampled him to death just before the Long Island store’s scheduled opening time of 5 a.m. When told they had to leave because of the incident, some shoppers complained, one even saying, “I’ve been on line since yesterday morning!”  

  • Shortly after midnight on BF 2006, an estimated 15,000 shoppers jammed Fashion Place Mall in Murray, Utah. Nine fights were reported. Police arrived to find customers ransacking stores and overturning piles of clothes. Some clerks panicked at the crowds and quickly closed their stores. “It’s like a mosh pit,” a shopper told The New York Times. 

  • Eight shoppers at Gurnee Mills Mall outside Chicago were arrested on Black Friday 2009 for engaging in “mob action” and damaging kiosks. Four fights were reported between 1 and 3 a.m.  

  • A Toys R Us manager in Missouri was thrown against a window after opening his store at midnight on Black Friday 2009. “A guy punched a woman in the head,” he told the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. “He didn’t get to come in.” The woman refused medical treatment, and the man was not arrested. 

  • Late arrivals to a toy store’s event last year in Memphis tried to bum-rush the line. A fracas ensued, in which one customer emptied her can of pepper spray. A Taser was brandished. The late arrivals at the store reportedly laughed at the one police officer patrolling the scene, telling him that one policeman wouldn’t stop them.  (Nov. 15, 2010, from John Campanelli, The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com/pdq/index.ssf/2010/11/black_friday_lore_and_statisti.html)    

What to do instead of Black Friday
If you are feeling that primitive need to hunt and gather good deals, I suggest making your own gifts at home.  You don’t have to be incredibly crafty to master the homemade gift.  Baked goods are also a great gift that is relatively cheap to create.  A few great resources for making your own gifts are:

Other alternatives to buying Black Friday – donate to charities, shop local, support local artists and check out etsy.  For more information, click here for a reading on the psychology of Black Friday from Live Science.com. 

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