Black Friday! A Rant. Feel Free to Skip This If You Really Just Want to Shop

Click for slightly disturbing meme I didn't want to put on the blog.

It's Black Friday in the US.

What does that mean?

It's a day retailers drop prices to try to bring people in for their holiday shopping.

My personal advice to you?

Stay home and read a book. Spend the day with your family. Anything but shopping.


1) The savings don't add up.

Add up the time you spend waiting in long lines: looking for parking, getting ready to pay, just waiting for stores to open or sometimes to get into shops that have hit their maximum capacity. Does it equal the amount of money you save? Are the deals really that good? 

Don't forget how much you paid for gas, or valet parking because you already spent an hour looking for a space. And lastly do you really need that thing you are going to buy? Will you buy it for a gift (kind of the point of holiday shopping) or for yourself?

Let's be honest. It's tiring, time-consuming, and often crowded and unpleasant, and if you're as savvy a shopper as you think you are, you would probably have been able to find the same savings any other day of the year, minus the traffic jam. The holidays should be about giving, not greed. Try to remember that as someone tries to yank the last $1 smartphone out of your sweaty, shaking hands.

2) Thanksgiving was one of the two days left that retail salespeople get to be with their families on a significant day.

Big box retailers have been threatening it for years, and if Borders was still around, this would have been the year that we were open on Thanksgiving. "Because everybody else is doing it." Retailers are some of the worst lemmings, seriously.

We had two days of the year that we were guaranteed a rest, and now one of them is gone. I am sure at least some of the people who have to work this Thanksgiving are just grateful to have a job, but I still don't think that's as comforting as being able to take the day off from said job and spend it with your loved ones.

If you have never had to do it, count yourself very, very lucky.

3) The only way to quash demand for stores opening on Thanksgiving is for consumers to stop falling for it.

It never makes sense to me: retailers slash prices way down and try to beat each other's sales numbers for the weekend, while undercutting their profit margins to get more customers to buy into their gimmicks. Not only are they spending more money to keep their store open on Thanksgiving (typical retailer Holiday pay is double the normal hourly rate), they are making less money. 

So what was the point of all that? To get the customer to come back and shop there the rest of the year. (Which frankly backfires because then the week before Thanksgiving everyone just waits and doesn't buy anything so they can save an extra buck on Black Friday.)

The thing is, as long as people keep shopping and spending enough to make it "worth it" for corporations, this manufactured shopping frenzy will continue. Thanksgiving and other holidays should be about spending time with your friends and family, not buying cheap electronics. And I think everyone should have a fair shot at that day of rest and relaxation.

4) Some people go crazypants on Black Friday.

I'm serious, don't get trampled or shot. I am fervently hoping the number of shopping-related deaths in the news this year is 0.

- - -

I'm not saying don't shop. The United States needs help recovering economically, which means people need to spend money on the goods and services they need and want. I'm saying there are 360+ other days of the year that shops are open and you don't need to give into the hype of Black Friday. Get what you want, when you want it, at the best price you can afford, but don't be naïve. You can find savings every day of the year if you pay attention.

If you're going to shop, do it on Saturday when the shops were going to be open anyway, and Shop Small to help your local businesses grow and thrive. (Most local mom and pops have online shops too, so you don't even have to leave the house :) 

In the words of LeVar Burton, "You don't have to take my word for it..." Check out this article from Smart Money magazine on "10 Things Stores Won't Say About Black Friday".


If you have a minute, Victoria Schwab is running a great raffle on her blog.
Every entry also allocates $1 to one of three charities.
Thanks for giving back, Victoria!

Alethea doesn't want anything for Christmas that can't be categorized as breakfast, cheese, or dessert. Save your money! (Or, sure, you can get me a wedge of brie. I guarantee it won't go to waste.)

The cheesecake I made for Thanksgiving,
which could be classified as all three depending on the time of day.