The Darker Side of Black Friday

Customers push each other out of the way as the crowd surges towards widescreen televisions during last year's Black Friday. COURTESY OF RAY TANG/REX.
Customers push each other out of the way as the crowd surges towards widescreen televisions during last year’s Black Friday. COURTESY OF RAY TANG/REX.

Money can’t buy happiness but, let’s face it, Americans love to shop. No other time of the year best exemplifies American consumer culture than Black Friday. According to the National Retail Federation, 92.1 million Americans went shopping in retail stores on Black Friday, and 248.7 million went shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend accounting for both retail and online sales. They estimate consumers will spend $616,900,000 in November and December of 2015 combined. These statistics often draw complaints that Americans are obsessively materialistic, even hedonistic, at a time that is meant to celebrate family togetherness.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in 1966 by a Philadelphia policeman who observed a sharp increase of fatal car accidents and violence during the frantic holiday frenzy that consumes the November and December holiday season. Unfortunately, these dangers still persist. Bryant Chen, an employee of Best Buy in the affluent neighborhood of Los Feliz, outlines the various safeguards employed by staff  to prevent tragedy. “We make sure [the] police and paramedics are always on call.. and that customers enter the building in an orderly fashion,” said Chen.

Many critics of this consumer holiday often cite the mass frenzy of Black Friday shoppers. Senior Karla Sandoval says she “loves shopping” but acknowledges that “on that day people are really pushy and greedy.” Like Sandoval, not everyone is entirely critical of the shopping season. Junior David Guerrero recognizes that “you can find good deals” but says, “I’m not too crazy over it.” The variety of door-busting sales are very well appreciated by consumers but many overwhelmed shoppers concede that the holiday shoppers can be rather obsessive. Holidays like Thanksgiving are meant to celebrate family and friends, above all.

However, as major retail companies like Best Buy realize the consistency and profitability of holiday shopping, sales have expanded beyond Black Friday, creating new shopping holidays like “Cyber Monday.” If current spending trends continue, Americans nationwide will continue to shop until they drop.



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