By MAYA PAGE
Black Friday shopping has killed five people and injured 98 more in the U.S. since 2006. A U.S. citizen is more likely to die while shopping than from a shark attack.
Thanksgiving Day is all about giving thanks and being surrounded by family, but as soon as nightfall hits millions of people go stampeding violently through retailers’ doors.
More than 154 million consumers shopped in stores and online on Black Friday in 2016, and the average shopper spent about $290, according to the National Retail Federation. The data also states that consumers spent a total of $67.6 billion on Black Friday shopping in 2015.
Black Friday used to start the morning after Thanksgiving, but over the years, the shopping has begun earlier and earlier. Stores are now opening as early as Thanksgiving afternoon, with Target and Wal-Mart unlocking their doors at 6 p.m. and JCPenney at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
People devote their entire holiday to shopping. What happened to being thankful for all the non- material things in life? It is as if Thanksgiving has been overridden by this shopping extravaganza.
Retailers make a killing every Black Friday by convincing consumers to participate in one of the biggest shopping days of the year. However, it was not always like this. So, who actually started all this madness? The Philadelphia Police Department.
Before it was officially named “Black Friday,” retailers would immediately
start setting up for Christmas and offering deals the day after Thanksgiving. It was like a symbolic entrance to the season of giving. As retailers from all over the country caught onto this trend, more and more families started leaving their houses early in the morning after Thanksgiving Day. This caused an enormous number of traffic jams, and the Philadelphia Police Department did not like it.
The traffic was particularly bad in Philadelphia because the annual Army-Navy football game held there on the Friday after Thanksgiving. In 1966, the police department started referring to the day as “Black Friday” in hopes of people finding the name distasteful and ridiculous, making them opt out of the consumer madness, according to Huffington Post.
The term was supposed to have a negative meaning, as if it was a day of blackness and chaos. However, the name caught on somewhere along the way. Corporate America spun the phrase to make it mean something exciting and desirable. The Philadelphia cops failed at their attempt of turning people away from shopping, and in the end they helped television and advertisers put a name to this day.
The big question is: Is Black Friday shopping really worth it?
Millions of people swarm retail and department stores in the middle of the night, tired, angry and obsessed. Clothing is scattered about on the floor, people are throwing things around, and the crowds are so insane it is impossible not to bump into someone.
“If you’re into doorbuster deals, you need to be strategic and arrive early to claim the items you want,” Business Insider wrote. “Otherwise, you’ll probably miss the deals and end up spending more money on items you hadn’t intended to buy.”
Besides false advertisement of sales, Black Friday shopping has been extended to a whole weekend of deals. There is no need to wait in lines when retail stores usually keep their deals for the whole Thanksgiving weekend to make more money.
There is also Cyber Monday which can allow one to get the same great deals without putting themselves into the dangers of Black Friday shopping. These dangers include stampedes, fights, falling asleep while driving home from lack of sleep, and overspending, leaving pockets empty right before the holiday season.
Another factor to look at is the workers. Employees who work at retail stores don’t get enough credit for what they endure on Black Friday. Many employees didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with their families and have to work the entire night without sleep, dealing with angry customers and cleaning up messes.
If someone has great strategizing skills and is really good at bargain hunting, Black Friday may be worth it. But, if you don’t want to wait in lines in the middle of the night, leaving with empty pockets, and possibly injured or dead, Black Friday might not be.