Black Friday. Gray Thursday. Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday. Remember when it used to be about Thanksgiving?
Somewhere in the past few years our national day of thanks became a day of doorbuster specials.
There was more media coverage this year about Black Friday shopping than there were stories about what Thanksgiving and what the ensuing holiday season means - or should mean. Where were the stories about soldiers coming home to be with their families? Or the woman who prepared a Thanksgiving meal for neighbors that would otherwise spend another day alone? Where were the stories that make us feel good about the holiday and remind us what it’s supposed to be about?
Instead, Thanksgiving became viral videos of frenzied shoppers diving into bins to grab phones, or to push others out of the way to get that coveted piece of technological wonderment. Shoppers getting punched in the face, shoppers with guns, Walmart protests, long lines and chaotic crowds became the news of the day instead of stories about families coming together or people showing thanks through good deeds.
The news of the shopping frenzy filled the air and overshadowed the day that used to be set aside for something completely different - a non-commercial day of giving thanks for what we’ve been blessed with in our lives.
By Friday morning we all woke up to horrifying tales of Black Friday shopping gone wrong and people fighting each other for “doorbuster” deals. One YouTube video that went viral with over 2.4 million hits in a matter of days was aptly named “Walmart Black Friday fighting over phones during 2012, American people act like animals.”
Other headlines included: “Black Friday ‘Gang Fight’ at Woodland Mall leads to Chaos, Arrests” and “Black Friday Violence: Police and retailers prepare for crowds and chaos.”
The shopping mania ate into the day itself with stores this year opening their doors on Thursday evening, not even waiting until the standard day after Thanksgiving.
Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than last year. Sears, which did not open on Thanksgiving last year at all, opened at 8 p.m.
When Macy’s opened its doors in New York’s Herald Square at midnight, 11,000 shoppers had already lined the streets waiting to get in.
Around 147 million people shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend - each spending an average of $398 - and stores were expected to haul in approximately $11.4 billion on Black Friday alone. According to Google Trends, people started widely searching online for ‘Black Friday’ on October 14.
Brick and mortar retailers use Black Friday - and now Gray Thursday - to bolster their annual revenues, as much as 40 percent of which comes from sales that kick off the day after Thanksgiving.
As Americans rely more and more on online shopping, traditional retailers are feeling the pinch and say they are forced into the retail splurge so they can turn a profit for the entire year.
Stores say they are only supplying what people want, so in the coming years why don’t we change “what we want” and show our kids and loved ones that Thanksgiving means just that - giving thanks.
Next year, let’s forget about that Black Friday deal we can’t live without -- especially if it takes us out of Pickens County and local businesses.
If we absolutely can’t live without it, at least wait until the day after Thanksgiving, one of oldest and most noble American holidays. There are still deals out there on Friday.
Turkey and family on Thanksgiving, shopping local some other time.