The American consumer, usually the slow-moving herbivore of capitalism, transforms on the day after Thanksgiving into a rabid dog for faux bargain basement deals.
Black Friday is upon us.
For me, the day after Thanksgiving is reserved for napping, drinking, repeating. No matter that the stores I frequent (read: liquor, adult) haven’t yet jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon.
What to make of it all? Frankly, only in America would we have a day set aside for us all to rush out and buy more stuff the day after we just sat down and gave thanks for all that we have.
I mean, watch these folks turn on each other over the prospect of a discounted deep-fat fryer. It’s perhaps the most anti-Rockwellian (and I hate Norman Rockwell) thing you will ever see:
If you are going to take the time to fight that nonsense, also take a moment to break down these three Black Friday facts:
1.) It’s all Black on Friday and Friday only. Well, not really. This year, with Thanksgiving being so late and thus shortening the holiday shopping season, deals are starting on Thursday and some starting a full week before Black Friday. One giant chain is calling it “Black Friday Week.” Also, brick-and-mortar stores are terrified at the thought of losing more ground to online retailers. They want you in earlier and are bringing in their employees earlier to accommodate you.
2.) Labor unions and their allies plan protests at up to 1,000 Walmarts across the country on Black Friday. Walmart has increasingly been under fire for reports on everything from desperately low wages to cases of pushed-under-rug workplace discrimination. Recently, one Walmart in Ohio held a canned food drive — not for the area’s needy, but for its own employees.
3.) How many federal holidays do Americans enjoy? Eleven. Thanksgiving included. By comparison, Austria has 36. All the countries deemed the “happiest” by the United Nations World Happiness Report have over three times the number of holidays that we do. Is there a correlation between time off, relaxation, and spending time with loved ones and the overall happiness of a nation? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say probably.
One company is appealing to the better angels of our natures. High-end furniture store Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams posted this message: “An advocate of family-centric practices, we plan to spend this special day with our family and friends to give thanks for all we are grateful for. We hope you will have the chance to do the same.”
Maybe soon we will reach the tipping point where messages like that may resonate more with shoppers than midnight sales and cheap giveaways. Maybe soon.