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Opinion

Black Friday trends change meaning of holiday season

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November 7, 2013

While it may seem far away now, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This means giving thanks for the things you already have, and, of course, waking up before sunrise the next morning to trample people for things you do not have.

Black Friday has become part of American culture, and millions of people participate each year. It marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and many stores mark down prices on popular items and launch television advertisements in early November. While I use Black Friday for extra sleep, it is the one day that shoppers are able to grasp a tremendous deal and get their gifts wrapped early.

The term Black Friday can be traced to a financial crisis in Philadelphia, Penn., during the 19th century. Around 1869, the United States was experiencing a financial crisis similar to the 2008 recession. Newsletters stressed that shopping on the day after Thanksgiving was looked down upon because of the lack of money available. Since the first two days after Thanksgiving were known to be busy shopping days downtown, there were traffic jams and cluttered sidewalks, which created bad stimulus for business owners.

Locals desired the name to be changed on countless locations. Some stores advertised “Big Friday,” but such attempts were clearly unsuccessful. It was not until after 1975 that the term Black Friday seeped out of Philadelphia and became a national trend.

During the first years of Black Friday, people had to arrive at the stores at 6 a.m. to get all the best deals. In recent years, however, that custom has changed in several stores. Many now open 5 or 4a.m. As if that is not early enough, some stores, such as Kohl’s and Target open at midnight. Wal-Mart anxiously lets customers in at 8p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, which is simply preposterous. Thanksgiving is an important day to spend with family and should not be spent going out to spend money for the next holiday.

Black Friday has not always been the most popular shopping day. During the years 1993 to 2001, the most popular shopping day tended to be the last Saturday before Christmas. This trend did not last long, as Black Friday has retained its status as the most popular shopping day since 2003.

Recent examples of Black Friday deals include free coloring books and Crayola crayons at Toys R Us and shopping hours until early Saturday morning at stores, such as Forever 21 and Aeropostale. Many stores have also extended their sales into the following weekend.

The trends prevalent in the United States are seen in Canada and other countries. At first, Canadians shopped in the United States, mostly due to cheaper prices. In 2008 and 2009, however, the American dollar and the Canadian dollar were equal in value, so Canadian retailers began to run sales, in order to keep Canadians within the borders. A day similar to Black Friday in Canada is Boxing Day, promoting consumerism. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have started to participate in Black Friday, thanks to sites like Amazon and Apple.

Black Friday will come in just a blink of an eye, and advertisements are already being launched on television. If you are a frequent Black Friday shopper, keep an eye out for those sales, as they will come fast. For those who prefer not to shop, sleep well. Before getting the things you do not have, do not forget to give thanks to the things you already have.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.

Comments

Kathleen Dempsey on 08 Nov 2013: Great article Cristin