Black Friday Frenzy
November 28, 2016
Black Friday: otherwise known as the day Americans flood malls and shopping centers for the best deals on clothing and electronics, despite having just spent the day before being thankful for what they already have. While there is a bit of irony in the date of this ‘holiday’ (as some deem it), many see it as the perfect opportunity to get all that holiday gift shopping done way ahead of time, and save a little money while they’re at it. However, there’s no getting around the fact that Black Friday is a holiday that highlights people’s materialism in a society where many are struggling, but some stores are starting to use this day as a tool in raising money for charities. Many stores though, such as the ones I visited, are still hectic, money grabbing machines.
Everyone’s heard about the fights and massacres that can ensue on Black Friday between customers. I can’t count the number of movie scenes that portray two girls fighting over the last pair of shoes in a flash sale. Stores become absolutely flooded with customers, shoveling through one another just to get the next aisle. People start lining up outside stores as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. One thing’s for sure: people will do anything for a good deal.
In Encinitas, Black Friday 2016 started at that early hour of 6 p.m. for some. Driving around after my Thanksgiving meal, I could see people lined up with tents outside of Target. It was safe to assume Walmart had a similar scene.
However, for a teenage girl such as myself, everyone knows that Black Friday starts at the Carlsbad Forum at midnight. I headed over there around 11:30 p.m. and anticipated a full parking lot and lines wrapped around buildings. While parking was relatively easy, the latter was true. Waiting in line for half an hour in biting cold oh so known to Southern California was NOT the highlight of my Thanksgiving break.
Once midnight struck and the stores finally let people in, I braced myself for the rampage. But, besides the few stuck up eighth grade girls that shoved me out of the way as they basically capsized a display in Tilly’s, everything was relatively calm. Besides the poor employees that were somehow willing to work at such an ungodly hour, no one was stressed out or anything. There weren’t even that many people; I could easily make my through the store without being caught in a wave of shoppers.
I left the Carlsbad Forum around 1:30 a.m. with about $50 worth of purchases, but I didn’t really save that much, in reality. I would’ve had to pay maybe $15 more if I’d bought all the same items the day before at their regular prices. All in all, besides the strange floaty feeling that came from shopping in a physical store with a significant amount of people around me at 1 o’clock in the morning, the Carlsbad Forum didn’t exactly create the most exciting Black Friday experience.
Nine hours of sleep later, a couple friends and I headed with full wallets and comfy shoes to one of the biggest malls within the area: the North County Westfield. We figured it was worth the extra drive as opposed to UTC, where the outdoor setting would burn us alive. The road leading up to the parking lot of the mall was packed with cars, a couple of whom were all too ready to hit me and get in front of me on their quest to get to the Black Friday deals. Parking was immediately a struggle, but a couple minutes of stalking people got us a prime spot.
The inside of the mall was teeming with people, and even though the AC was blasting, I immediately started sweating from all the body heat. Despite this, it was far less shoppers than I expected. I had envisioned blocks of crowds that were impossible to get through with little to no elbow room. I expected to see multiple shoppers with arms full of bags, having spent hundreds of dollars. I didn’t see any of that.
I think this was due to the fact that online shopping had become so prevalent, and that now has its own holiday as well: Cyber Monday. Because of this, Black Friday isn’t as desperate as it maybe once was, and not as many shoppers go out on Friday. Who can blame them; who wouldn’t want to stay inside and shop through the easiness of the world wide web rather than comb through racks of clothes, looking for that one piece, while other shoppers swirl around you doing the exact same thing?
Because of this, though, I think that Black Friday deals have been getting worse and worse. Out of the $110 I spent on Black Friday, there was nothing that was really a ‘steal.’ I’m wishing I’d saved my money for Cyber Monday, which I remember from last year ensues actual store-wide sales where you can really save.
Will Black Friday become irrelevant at some point? I don’t think so; there are always people who would rather get their items now and in person. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that spending the day sorting through strewn about merchandise with two of my close girlfriends wasn’t fun, despite the extreme dehydration and foot soreness that resulted after three hours.
And throughout it all, if you’re someone with morals, you may be struck at any point during your shopping frenzy (whether in person or online) about the fact that while we’re fortunate enough to have our biggest worry be about where the best sale is going to be, there are people in our country who can barely afford to feed their children. It makes everything related to Black Friday and Cyber Monday feel trivial and hypocritical.
However, we can actually utilize these shopping holidays to help those in need; in fact, Charlotte Russe (a clothing store for teens and young women) was doing it this year. It was one of the two stores my friends and I visited. While we were shopping, we would continuously hear sporadic rounds of cheers from the employees, but we didn’t understand why. When we went to check out though, we found out that every time someone was rung up, the cashier would ask them if they’d like to donate a dollar to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and every time someone said yes, all the employees would cheer. On most days, when cashiers ask if I’d like to donate to a cause, I admittedly say no, like many other people. However, today felt different. First of all, it was only a dollar; of course I can spare a dollar, and so can most people. Second of all, with the cheering and the business of the day in general, it almost felt like some big communal effort that I was happy to participate in.
From the number of times those employees were cheering, it was obvious that a lot of money was being collected for this cause, which really showcases how other businesses should act of Black Friday. With so many shoppers already set with their wallets, thinking that they’re saving tons of money by shopping that day; the amount of donations toward charitable causes could be really significant.