After stuffing myself with Thanksgiving turkey, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes, I get a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s mad dash to the mall to participate in America’s annual celebration of consumerism — Black Friday. Except that was 10 years ago. Instead of running into stores at the crack of dawn to find the best deals for flat-screen TVs, consumers scout out deals from the comfort of their computer screens weeks before the big day. All the hype and excitement of Black Friday is no more.
The sales are extraordinarily unspecial. Retailers like Abercrombie and Bath and Body Works advertise “Big Black Friday Discounts!” or “Massive Sale,” but really only offer deals like 30% off select items or Buy 2 Get 1 Free. These discounts are also offered s at other times of the year, especially after the end of a season. The sales are especially underwhelming since prices have increased so much for the average American consumer; inflation hit a record high of 9.1% in June 2022 and still remains a burden on consumers’ wallets. Part of the fun of Black Friday was seeing items go on sale for less than half of the original price. Those eye-watering, extra-low prices seem to be a vestige of America’s past Black Fridays.
Another shift in Black Friday culture is when one store starts its sales earlier, its competitor has to move its sale earlier too. This phenomenon means that Black Friday has evolved into a massive misnomer. The week-long sales also contribute to the lack of urgency that I now associate with Black Friday shopping. For example, if I wait a week to buy a winter coat, the sale will most likely still be there, and I can monitor the price every day online. That Black Friday pressure and exhilaration has ebbed away in recent years. These changes are partly a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as this period in time brought online shopping to unprecedented heights which shows no signs of slowing down. Today, there are far more avenues to shop, like on websites and apps, so the in-person experience is not a novelty.
Although it makes me sad that I will most likely never experience the rush of darting through a packed store on Black Friday again, the disappearance of a “shop-till-you-drop” culture should not be scorned. There is no need for impulsive buying because the sales will not disappear in a few hours, and some other customer probably won’t get their hands on the last of the store’s stock in a few minutes. The week-long sales give shoppers an opportunity to think over their intended purchases. This is helpful since we often get sucked into thinking that we are saving a ton of money with all the discount signs but are really buying and spending more. Most items purchased on Black Friday end up in landfills along with their packaging, so the prolonged sales are conducive to a more sustainable consumer mindset. I may be pollyannaish, but perhaps the extended sales will introduce a “stop-before-you-shop” culture. Black Friday may just be another seasonal sale that some keen shoppers pay attention to, and that’s not a bad thing.