Black Thursday and Black Friday: Con

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Black Friday is the largest, most lucrative shopping day of the year for many businesses. Falling on the day after Thanksgiving, it signals the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Traditionally, this carnival of a shopping excursion consists of stores opening their doors in the wee hours of Friday morning, letting in mobs of customers eager to spend their hard earned cash on items substantially reduced in price, while getting a head start on their holiday shopping.

However, this year stores all across the United States decided to stray from tradition and instead opened their automatic sliding doors late Thanksgiving evening. Stores such as Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy, and Target began their Black Friday sales as early as 9 and 10 pm. Some retailers even chose to offer “dirt-cheap” deals as greater incentive for customers to spend their dollars at these specific locations.

Although this increase of potential “buying time” may seem like a smart retail move, the consequences on store employees were far from satisfactory. Employees required to work the night of Thanksgiving were, instead of sharing dinner with their families and loved ones, taking power naps in preparation for the long night of work ahead. For many, the madness did not even end here. Employees such as Anthony Hardwick, an attendant at Target and a printing supervisor for Office Max, were forced to move from one 11 pm - 4:30 am job to another job with a 5 am start time. And although companies tried their best to accommodate employees requesting the day off, Hardwick said that he “wasn’t given the option”.

Along with these completely unnecessary opening times came increased cases of violence. One particular case involved a woman accused of firing pepper spray at other shoppers in a Wal-Mart, around 10:15 pm on Thursday. A crate of discounted Xbox video game consoles were brought out by an employee, and within moments “a crowd formed to wait for them to be unwrapped.” According to Sergeant Jose Valle of the Los Angeles police department, “the woman began spraying people to get an advantage”. This incident is only one of many nationwide, with one of the most serious involving a robber shooting “a shopper who refused to give up his purchases outside a Wal-Mart store in San Leandro, California” (NY Times). Instances with this degree of violence support the claim that earlier store opening times are a major catalyst of increased violence. When placed in these types of chaotic environments, people seem to get completely out of control, resulting in unnecessary violence.

Taking into consideration the negative effects “Black Thursday” had on not only employees, but also customers, it’s safe to say that it was absolutely unwarranted. Yes, it is true that sales were raised this Thanksgiving weekend, however according to small business owner Jay Goltz, “it’s likely those sales would have been made in the coming weeks even without the early openings.” Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time we spend with family and friends; a time for reflection on all that we are thankful for; and a time of rest and relaxation. “Black Thursday” limits all of these principles and should be warranted as complete injustice for all those forced into it.

 

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