I blew off Black Friday this year. And so did the 5 people I am closest to. It was a consecrated effort on my part. My children watched advertisements on TV and after a few days felt they had to go see what this Black Friday thing was about. They became convinced they had to be a part of it. Then I started getting daily verbal reminders. “We” were going to Black Friday. “We” were suddenly going to go Christmas shopping for all the things they didn’t want to wait another month for. Finally I resorted to posting pictures of all the full parking lots to convince them they didn’t need to go. It was an intervention I had to do. I showed them the pictures of packed shopping malls before the next stage happened: the pleading. I know my poor children would have inundated me with pleas. And then I would have felt obligated to appease them. We all have our weaknesses. I could see where this was going and I know I would have caved. Three pictures did the trick. No Black Friday for any of us.
I met moms that start their Black Friday shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner. They plan it out, coordinate childcare, put gas in the car, grab their list and warmest jacket, and then head out; to stand in line late at night and shop until everything is off their list. They are the more serious shoppers. Their goal is to not only get through the list but get good deals on most if not all the items on the list. It’s a long night. And it’s cold. I tried it once and wouldn’t do it again. But what do I know? I know I like my sleep. And I like to stay warm. And I hate crowds. And I know there isn’t a single thing in any store that could justify me standing in a line late at night out in the cold. Especially when you can order virtually anything online these days. Or buy gift cards. Clearly I am not up all the deals I am missing. And with all the media hype surrounding Black Friday, it almost felt unpatriotic this year to not shop. But somehow I managed.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
I will say that I felt guilty for not shopping. How could I possibly feel guilt for saving money? Yet I felt it. As if I was missing a longstanding American tradition. Talk about being brainwashed and values being backwards. I felt guilty because our culture at that moment was celebrating spending money, and I was not. To me the Black Friday deals seem like an attempt to get people to spend money (obviously) through this immense sales campaign. It looks to me like a complex consumer spending program to confirm shoppers are still spending money and to remind us there are twice as many things out there to purchase as there were before. It’s a blackmail campaign; a subtle reminder that we support each other’s businesses, and whether you like it or not, your hard earned money needs to get recirculated back into the system. Which means out of your pocket. The US consumer way of life literally needs our buy in to survive.
Black Friday is the day, the one and only day when things are so cheap (value system) that it makes it ok to spend even more money than you did before. And it’s all going to be ok because you’re also buying for others (value system). And then you can turn around and do it again on Cyber Monday. What could possibly be wrong with that? You’re helping yourself and your family, and you’re bettering the economy. And with many Americans planning to spend more this year and planning to put most of it on credit, what’s not to like?
Additional recommended reading:
REI Plays With Black Friday PR Fire, Gets Burned on Pymnts.com, Nov.20, 2015
Too many people are pretending to be rich by Trent Hamm, BusinessInsider.com, Nov. 2, 2015
How American consumers shop now by ConsumerReports.org, Sept., 2015
Social Media Analytics Reveal 2014 Holiday Shopping Trends and Insights by Celia Brown, Forbes.com, SAP Voice, Jan. 2, 2015