Black Friday Madness Kicks Off The Holiday Season
Every year during the first week of December in the United States, you will hear many people complain about the commercialization of Christmas as department stores all across America start their Christmas preparations. Christmas decorations go up seemingly overnight and speakers joyously proclaim the upcoming season. While this may seem premature, many people do not realize that this is necessary if stores are to be ready for an event in America called Black Friday. This incredible unofficial holiday is only celebrated in the U.S. and is virtually the biggest shopping day of the year.
Typically falling on the day after Thanksgiving, which places it on or between the 23rd through 29th day of November, it is considered by many as the first unofficial Christmas shopping day. Black Friday is the reason that the department stores decorate early. Being prepared for holiday shoppers is a critical stage in the shopping strategy. Studies have proven time and again that a person tends to spend more money when the store is completely decked out and there is Christmas music playing softly in the background. Combine this with a dozen other strategies and a fantastic storewide sale and you have a bottom line that makes stockholders smile.
Black Friday is a time of deep cuts in prices as stores take their entire surplus inventory accumulated during the course of the year and reduce it to ridiculously low prices. Often times, the store will sell this merchandise at just above cost to clear the shelves for new merchandise for the Christmas season. This way of surplus clearing is the most beneficial to both customer and retailer. It is a win/win situation where everyone gains and no one loses. Sales as deep as 70 to 80% are not unheard of on brand name merchandise, the majority of which is last year’s style, model, or fashion.
There is a downside to this extremely peculiar sale day as well. The stores encourage this “dark side” by opening their doors as early as 3 or 4 am, allowing customers access well before sunrise. Even stores that do not normally open until noon open this early. As a result, a first come, first serve attitude of aggressive shopping has been unknowingly adopted by ravenous women desperate to save money and get the best merchandise. Rude behavior and in some cases violence ensues as crazed women push, shove, and fight their way into the stores to get their prizes. There have even been reports of deaths and although these are rare, they do happen.
In one rare instance, an electronics store opened at 3 am and by sun up, the entire store was engulfed in flames and women (and men) were burned and trampled. No one is sure how the fire started, but witnessed reported two women fighting over a surround sound system even though there were several of the same make and model on the shelf. Apparently, these were the same women who had an altercation over who would get into the store first.
The event has become so extreme that there are two types of classes being taught. One class is self-defense and methods of handling yourself when shopping within an aggressive crowd and the other is the court ordered anger management classes that the women who are arrested for this kind of behavior and sentenced before a judge must attend to make amends to the court. I personally stay at home in bed watching the clock and waiting for the phone to ring with the bad news about anyone in my family who participates in this madness. I pace, I write a letter to Santa, I bite my fingernails, and if it becomes too late in the day and my wife has not called to let me know she is okay, I break out the scotch to calm my nerves. It is funny though, of all these, the most calming is the letter Santa will get from me asking for a new set of nerves for next year’s Black Friday madness.