Back to Black Friday: A reflection on one of the craziest days of the year

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Back to Black Friday: A reflection on one of the craziest days of the year
Black Friday sales push earlier
Shoppers are willing to stand in long lines to receive a deep price cut. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Staff Writer

Most people have mixed feelings about Black Friday. They love the great deals that many stores have, but also mock the ridiculousness of it. Right after big family get-togethers comes the day when many people wait in lines at early hours just to get a cheap product.

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, a day that is supposed to be the start of the holiday shopping season. According to the Huffington Post, it is common belief that this day’s name came from the term, “in the black,” accounting jargon for “becoming profitable.” However, the name “Black Friday” dates back to the mid-1960s when Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday made those three days a very festive period. The business was great for retailers, and they began to offer deals as soon as Thanksgiving ended, but traffic jams and overcrowding caused great stress on the streets. The police department coined the name to reflect how irritated it was by the collective consumer madness.

Many see the Friday as a violent shopping spree. News stories have spread through social media every year depicting people fighting over specific items with an almost comical stubbornness. The website keeps a running count of all the deaths and injuries related to Black Friday since 2006.

Though the media may create a different image, there have only been seven deaths and ninety injuries related to Black Friday over the past few years. However, the day does cause much stress and violent tendencies in some, so the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recommended a plan for employers to follow, including suggestions such as hiring additional staff, setting up barricades, establishing different entrances and, most importantly, moving out of the way.

Is Black Friday actually the biggest shopping day of the year? Are the best deals even on that day? Black Friday is one of the top sales days of the year, but most of the spending occurs on days immediately before Christmas when last minute shopping begins.

As for the best deals, The Wall Street Journal has examined last year’s retail pricing data and found that the best overall prices occur on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, not after it.

People may be catching on. According to a recent Time article, the number of people shopping during the four-day weekend has greatly decreased as the total amount of spending dropped from 57.4 billion dollars to 50.9 billion, an 11% decline from last year’s amount. The amount spent per person has also dropped by 6.4%. The drop in spending is, researchers say, a direct result of the expanding sales season.

The trend of stores opening before Black Friday has become even more popular as some stores began offering holiday sales as soon as November 1 and plenty of stores also opened on Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears and Walmart all opened at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day. Many Americans are annoyed with the increasingly earlier start times, believing that the sales are ruining a family-centered holiday, while others resolve to just start their shopping earlier than they normally would.

So why do people even shop on this infamous day? Erica Zhong (Jr.) has an answer for that, saying, “Black Friday is a great time to have fun with friends and do some of my Christmas shopping. Free ice skating and rides on the Giant Wheel and Carousel at [the Irvine] Spectrum also add to the experience!”

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