Saturday, November 27, 2004

Black Friday: A Shopper's Search for Inner Truths?

searching for a bargain
Love For All, Hatred For None

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and thank God I’ve been able to avoid and survive a very strange and quirky American ritual. It's known as Black Friday.

A day when the "Almighty Dollar" rules over common sense. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is historically one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year. It marks the official beginning to the Christmas shopping season.

The "black" in the name comes from the standard accounting practice of using red ink to denote negative values (i.e., losses) and black ink to denote positive values (profits). Black Friday is the day when retailers traditionally get back "in the black" after operating "in the red" for the previous months. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

And while national economic growth has been steady, people continue to lose their jobs at a rate that should have an impact on holiday spending. I wonder if Black Friday has more to do with the damage all that shopping does to our bank accounts?

Yet, as I scanned newspapers across America, it was evident that there was nothing, including the lack of money, to keep shoppers away from those bargains.

Last year's Black Friday saw $7.3 billion in sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and the U.S. Commerce Department. For some retailers, holiday sales make up as much as 80 percent of the year's revenue. The National Retail Federation projects total holiday retail sales will increase 4.5 percent compared to last year.

Those wild and crazy newspaper editors responsible for goofy headlines traditionally have a field day on Black Friday. They focus on witty and silly headlines that describe this ritual. Here’s a small sample I found:

Holiday Hoards Hit Stores Early; Throngs Sleepwalk to Sales; Come and Get It; Ready, Set, Shop; Shop ‘til You Drop; Black Friday Rakes in the Green for Retailers; Thrill of the Hunt; Get Set…Shop!; It’s In the Bag; Traditional Insanity; A Shopper’s dream and Shopping Outside the Box.”

And how do you do the “Black Friday Hustle?” For those in need of exercise how about signing up for the “Black Friday Marathon?” This is some good stuff. One editor, who was apparently tired of the redundant use of Black Friday came up with this little quip: “Shoppers enjoying “White Friday.”

Whatever the headline the storylines accompanied by the traditional photo ops of shoppers hanging outside of shopping centers like zombies…in case you haven’t noticed, demented zombies are always to be found heading for the shopping malls in horror movies. I’ve always wondered why?

Now, while everyone is partying and jumping for job with a lot of loose money to spend during this season of joy, there always has to be some mean spirited grinch inventing new ways to steal our joy.

This year the “meanie award” has to go to those insidious little creeps who managed to apparently glue the locks on dozens of the biggest retailers in Lafayette, La, preventing managers from opening up promptly on lucrative "Black Friday." Hundreds of shoppers, some of whom arrived before dawn, were forced to wait outside Barnes & Noble, Old Navy and other stores while managers summoned locksmiths.

At least 200 locks on dozens of businesses were glued, including main entrances, rear doors and employee entrances, locksmith Garan Wilson said. Wilson's first job at about 5 a.m. Friday was to make his way to the front door lock at Old Navy by pushing through about 500 shoppers waiting outside, he said.

"I found about a half a tube of glue stuck inside," he said.

Kevin Vizena, head locksmith for Pop-A-Lock in Lafayette, said the vandals squirted the glue deep inside the keyholes, forcing him to drill holes and remove the locks from the doors.

The "doorbusters," those who show up at dawn for early-bird sales were not to be stopped by this little prank.

But big party goes on in America, as evident by the many hotels, motels seeking to turn a profit offer a special “Black Friday” package for you shop-til-you-droppers. One of the best offers I found in Denver, Colorado offered a “Turkey Raid Buffet”. Full from a second round of tryptophan, they’ll send you off to bed for a good night’s rest for the 6 a.m. shuttle over to Cherry Creek Shopping Mall , where the “Early Bird Gets the Deal” sales begin at 7 a.m.

And Black Friday apparently is raking in the green for retailers. As a result of the buying frenzy, Americans spent $8 Billion dollars in one day…wow! The figure represents 10.8 percent more than last year.

It may all be a little crazy to some who don’t participate in the frenzy but the relationship between shoppers and retailers is a love affair that is as one editor wrote: “Early Bird Shoppers Discover inner truths.”


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