It’s an event that happens every year, and has become a major part of our culture. Millions of Americans participate in it every year, including a former version of myself several times in the past.
I am of course talking about Black Friday sales. Stores open at absurd hours and have crazy deals on all sorts of products. You can get your hand on more televisions and laptops and kitchen appliances and clothing and children’s toys and telescopes and and and…… than you could ever need, all for huge discounts! All you have to do is sacrifice a little bit of your time to go out and stand in lines.
Meanwhile, I will be enjoying a good night’s sleep, my stomach way more full of turkey than I ever intended, laughing in my dreams about all the people wasting away their precious dollars and time on crap they don’t even need.
If you ask people what defines Black Friday here in America, they would likely say something along the lines of “stores opening really early and customers getting really good bargains on their holiday shopping”.
In my words, that would be “A very clever marketing technique by major US retailers to further convince Americans to waste their hard-earned money on useless crap”.
People often justify spending lots of money on Black Friday sales because they think they would have bought the stuff anyway, so they may as well get the discounts. Let’s examine that claim.
First off, remember that stores are still making a profit during Black Friday, even with the crazy discounts. Now you may think it is because of the increase in the volume of sales, and you would be partially right. But that isn’t the entire truth. If the stores discounted products so much that they weren’t making a profit on them, the more they sold the more money they would lose. So obviously the sales aren’t THAT great. And then there is the school of thought that stores take a loss on some items and make more of a profit on others on Black Friday. The increase in customers helps sell more items than just what is on sale, so they make money on those other product sales. There is a lot of that happening on Black Friday too, but people just brush it off. They think they’ll be smart and only buy what is on sale. Now that may be true for some, but seeing as stores make a huge amount of money on Black Friday, it isn’t the average. The fact is that when you’re stuck in a store waiting for hours just to buy one item, you will shop around for more. Whether this is to justify the time spent or because of more clever marketing magic doesn’t matter. The fact is that the average person who shops on Black Friday still is giving stores lots of money for stuff they don’t need.
Second, if my above statement is correct, you may not have bought some of the things you get on Black Friday if it wasn’t for being in the stores for the sales. If you’ve ever been to Walmart during one of these sales, you’ve no doubt seen people with multiple shopping carts, full of things you didn’t even know existed. I have an easier time believing in Sasquatch than the notion that people who shop on Black Friday (at least on average) do so deliberately and with limitations.
So clearly consumers aren’t winning pocketbook wise when it comes to Black Friday, at least not most of them. But that isn’t the only drawback to Black Friday. Another big one is the timing. Every year, the sales start slightly earlier. The stores seem to be competing to see who can open the earliest. Last year, I was disgusted when the sales in many stores began at midnight. But this year, Walmart has stooped to a new low. They are beginning some of their sales at 8pm on THANKSGIVING DAY. I mean come on now. Why on earth would you go to Walmart to buy cheap electronics at a mild discount instead of enjoying Thanksgiving dinner? That’s just insane, and you can’t tell me that that will bring you fullness and satisfaction in life.
Yet another drawback to the madness of Black Friday sales is the crowds. People literally die because of them every year. No joke, pretty much every year someone gets trampled to death on the way into a store on Black Friday. And if the risk of death isn’t enough of a reason to avoid the crowds, how about those two-hour long waits at the checkout with nothing to comfort you but the latest celebrity gossip you don’t care about in the magazine stands.
Sure, there are some deals on Black Friday that are good, but they are few and far between. And the effort that is required to obtain these bargains is so great it isn’t nearly worth it in my opinion. For the aspiring Life Rich, satisfaction is gained through minimalism, not getting consumer crap for 20% off. I may venture out to get some of the sales later in the day once things have settled down. I happen to need a coat at the moment, and if the thrift stores continue to fail me this weekend then I’m going to have no choice but to go out to the mall and hope to find a bargain. Hopefully I can avoid that, and Black Friday sales as a whole.
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