This morning a friend of mine posted on Facebook that his employer is requiring him to come to work at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day at our local Best Buy. This requirement is a further demonstration of the insanity that has become the beginning of the Christmas Season. Ironically, this imposition to work comes on a day on which Americans contemplate the things for which they are grateful, the blessings bestowed upon us, and the people that have influenced our lives for the better.
The mentality behind Black Friday shoppers is one that has constantly befuddled me. I mean, a part of it makes sense. The idea behind Black Friday is that stores are able to offer steep discounts because from this point of the year forward, everything they sell is pure profit. Marketing campaigns for this day begin weeks in advance of the actual sales in order to get people to plan what store they are willing to wait through hours of the night and early morning in hope that they will be early enough to beat the rest of the crowd to the best deals.
The question is whether one will actually save more of their hard-earned cash by risking life and limb more than they might during other times of the year by exercising a little foresight and good planning. About a year ago, The Wallstreet Journal published an article regarding the Myth of the Black Friday Deal. Here are some of the highlights from the article:
- Many items are actually priced lower in September and October and the price is gradually raised leading up to Black Friday when the prices are then ‘slashed.’ This trend was demonstrated in the prices of items ranging from men’s watches to televisions to toys to women’s boots.
- The Christmas shopping season is actually one of the worst time to do your Christmas shopping as prices of some items are slashed in ‘door buster’ deals, whereas the prices of other items are raised to level out the loss in revenue from the slashed items.
- Following Black Friday, prices on the same items are gradually raised during the lead up to Christmas Day as supplies become more limited. This is a simple demonstration of supply and demand. Nothing surprising there, but something that I am sure a lot of people don’t take into consideration.
- Other items may be discounted more as Christmas approaches since retailers may have overestimated need on those items and want to clear them out.
The bottom line is that battling the lines of other shoppers eager for a killer (no pun intended) deal may be less of a payoff than the retailers would like you to believe. The key of successful marketing often depends on the suspension of reason and critical thinking in order to yield the greatest profit possible. Don’t fall for it!
Outside of avoiding the marketing scam of Black Friday is the larger issue of forgetting what Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be about on the part of retailers and other businesses. These businesses are encroaching more and more on this day by requiring their employees to come in earlier and earlier. At the tender age of 17, I was employed as a ‘cart boy’ at Fred Meyer. At that time, most stores opened around five or six AM. However, during the last few years, companies have been requiring their employees to come in as early as midnight on Black Friday. Now, they are being required to cut their Thanksgiving Day even shorter by being required to come in the evening of Thanksgiving.
The question is largely becoming one of when is too much too much? When will the masses stop rewarding bad retailer behavior by refusing to patronize stores that have bad policy when it comes to allowing their employees to enjoy one day of thanks with their families?
I realize that in being part of a society that has become dependent on instant gratification, it is easy to utilize the possibility of a steep discount rather than remember that it is far better to be grateful for what you have. I also realize that businesses are capitalizing on a tradition that is supposed to be patterned on the gifts bestowed upon the Redeemer of the World by wise men from the East. Can you picture these wise men standing for hours or days in the cold hoping to get into the local bazaar hoping to get their frankincense and myrrh at a cheap discount? I know I can’t.
Please take a moment and sign this petition that ask Best Buy to allow their employees a full day of Thanks enjoyed with their families, and exercise a little wisdom in your approach to your holiday shopping by taking advantage of other opportunities to save on your girts for your loved ones.