As someone born in the early 2000s, I can't be the only one here who remembers the magic that was previously black Friday. The evening after stuffing our faces with turkey and mashed potatoes, we go to bed early so we can head to the mall at 4 AM, wait on lines that stretch ten blocks down, and fight our way inside so we can get the TV that's 80% off or the coffee machine that's 70% off. Even though it goes without saying that black Friday used to be an exciting holiday, it also made people go crazy.
I don't know which scenario brought out the worst in humanity: the Popeyes chicken sandwich or black Friday. Search up "Black Friday Fights" if you need a refresher, and let's not forget how the news constantly used to report on people being trampled to death for a good sale. When you forget the inhumane treatment occurring, this supposed holiday was something people genuinely looked forward to. Up until the pandemic, stores were preparing earlier and earlier, going as far as to open their doors on Thanksgiving, when desperate shoppers would bust down the doors. However, times are changing. Because of the COVID pandemic, many stores closed their doors on Thanksgiving day of 2020, and things have never been the same.
Before I dive into the eventual demise of black Friday, let's talk about how black Friday has come to exist in the first place. The term "Black Friday" actually has its roots in Philadelphia, back in the 1950s. Locals used it to describe the chaos that ensued the day after Thanksgiving.
The city would flood with shoppers and tourists gearing up for the Army-Navy football game held on Saturday. The streets were packed, traffic was a nightmare, and cops had to work overtime just to manage the madness.
It wasn't until later that retailers jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon, spinning it into a massive sales opportunity (in typical capitalist fashion). They saw a chance to kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang, offering eye-popping discounts and deals to lure in customers. Over time, it evolved into the shopping spectacle we know today.
Now, it's become almost a national sport, with people camping out in front of stores, armed with coffee and sleeping bags, all in pursuit of that incredible bargain. And with the rise of online shopping, Cyber Monday joined the party, giving folks the chance to snag deals without braving the in-store madness.
What started as a local term for post-Thanksgiving chaos has morphed into a cultural phenomenon that marks the start of the holiday shopping craze. It's a fascinating blend of tradition, marketing savvy, and a dash of retail mayhem that keeps us coming back for more every year.
R.I.P Black Friday
Now, nobody comes back for more every year because stores started leaning on Cyber Monday more and spreading their "Black Friday" deals throughout November to mitigate the long lines that used to form. In 2021, Target announced they would not open their doors on Thanksgiving, and other stores, such as Walmart and Best Buy, are also closed on Thanksgiving. With the rise of online shopping, the whole meaning behind what black Friday originally was just dissipated.
Everyone shops on Amazon or bestbuy.com instead of going to an actual Best Buy store. Nobody waits in long lines any more because we can just stay home, shop, and have our items discreetly shipped to us. Also, the deals are just not dealing anymore. Items that used to be 80% or even 90% off are now only 10% off or 40% off if we're being generous here.
There also have been claims and reports of "price inflation" or "price anchoring" occurring where retailers would inflate the prices of items before black Friday and lower them back to normal prices to give off the illusion that we're actually getting a deal when we're not. Even though not all retailers are participating in this, it's safe to say that we're not getting the discounts we used to. Also, the importance of black Friday is being diluted due to companies trying to focus on the holiday shopping season as a whole.
Black Friday was a day when most families would get their Christmas shopping done at a cheaper price. As I mentioned previously, retailers continue to spread their sales out throughout the month of November and seep into early December, causing more people to shop earlier than ever.
Another thing that is contributing to the death of black Friday is the socioeconomic state of the country (I know I sound like Jaden Smith, but hear me out for a second). It was revealed that inflation has hit a 40-year high, and most millennials can't even afford to move out of their parents' houses, let alone go on shopping sprees for the latest pairs of UGGs on "sale." Nobody is really leaving their house for the latest black Friday sale, probably because of this financial crisis. Overall, people are not dying over black friday like they used to (which is good), but nobody is really celebrating black friday like they used to and reaping the previous benefits of it.