It’s the biggest, craziest shopping day of the year; a day where most shoppers could possibly be mistaken for an Olympic athlete or just plain crazy. That’s right — I’m talking about Black Friday.
There are two types of Black Friday shoppers. One is the shopper who goes to a couple stores at their leisure, hoping to find a good deal on a couple items they want. The second kind of shopper looks at the Black Friday ads online weeks before they officially come out in the Sunday paper, sets their alarm clock so they can arrive at the store for the midnight opening and makes a list of things they want to buy, and what stores they need to go to.
Black Friday can help a company whose sales have been in the toilet most of the year make a huge profit. Because of the money this day brings in, it has become a big part of many businesses.
Last year, the National Retail Federation said that the average amount spent last year on Black Friday was $364.34, compared to 2009 when the average customer spent $343.41. That’s up 6.12 percent from 2009.
The money made has now inspired more stores to open one minute after midnight on Thanksgiving instead of 4 a.m. the next morning. Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target and Best Buy are all opening midnight on the day after Thanksgiving. Walmart and Toys R Us decided to take it a step further and open up at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
The reason why? Best Buy’s chief executive, Brian Dunn, said Best Buy, “had to do this because their competition is opening earlier.” He also added to his statement he, “feels terrible.” If he really felt, “terrible,” he would not have made the decision to open Best Buy earlier than last year — then again, it’s not like he will be driving to work early the day after Thanksgiving.
Walmart, on the other hand, didn’t even pretend to be concerned for their employees. A Walmart representative said, “customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early.”
When was the last time you took a customer survey at Walmart? In typical Walmart fashion, it doesn’t mention the employees, but alludes to all the money that can be made.
Instead of reading about people being excited about shopping at these stores that are opening six to seven hours earlier, people are letting their frustrations be known. Some customers feel it’s unfair because it cuts into the time the store’s employees have with their family on Thanksgiving.
“Boycott Black Friday” Facebook pages and websites are popping up, and other movements like “Small Business Saturday” encourage shoppers to buy just one gift from a local small business this year. A Target employee even started a petition stating his disgust for the store opening earlier than it has in previous years, and is asking people to sign it so the department store will rethink this and open at its regular time at 5 a.m.
The petition has gained national media attention and over 100,000 signatures. The petition is a great idea, but Target isn’t going to change their mind about opening at midnight. Target and these other stores know how much money they can make if they open earlier.
Companies aren’t thinking about how we can make this safer for the customers — people have been trampled by the big crowds and, in some cases, people have died — or how this affects the employee’s holiday. People will continue to shop on Black Friday and more stores in the future will start opening at midnight.
Unless people become really serious about not shopping on this day, nothing will change and companies will continue to do what they want because they already know they have you in the palm of their hand.