Black Friday

These are the days that make me really grateful to be a Buddhist.

Not only do I not celebrate National Crass Consumerism season but I basically live in a small house full of stuff that’s been recycled from my grandparents’ houses.  I don’t want any thing that I can’t really use.  I don’t want a TV in every room.  Yup, my house and nearly everything in it are around 100 years or so old. The house is actually over 150 but the stuff is mostly 1920s and 1930s although my kitchen furniture is nearly as old as the house. I only buy things when they wear out.  I’m also fine wearing anything my sister ships to me that she’s worn because I don’t need that much stuff. I only have two small closets.   I just don’t care about stuff any more.  It just collects dust, breaks, needs to be cleaned or maintained, insured, and is mostly a bother.  I hardly use any of it.   I shop on line a lot and let folks deliver it to my front door and when I really need to buy stuff at a store,  I make sure that it never happens during a holiday season.  I don’t want to encourage the mass chaos that is National Crass Consumerism season.

However, my values don’t seem to be shared by most of my countrymen.  So, here’s some of those headlines from our national season of insanity, overspending, and grabbiness.

Anything For A New TV: The Worst Of Black Friday Shopping Mayhem

The shopping tradition extravaganza that is Black Friday never goes off without a hitch. And this year was no exception.

As shoppers braved long lines and jostled in big crowds late Thursday and into Friday, tensions ran high and a few situations got out of hand. From gun-wielding in Texas to an abandoned child in Massachusetts, shoppers eager for a good deal let their best judgments slip away. Others just got caught in out-of-control crowds.

The Gun-Wielder
Late Thursday night, a dispute over line-cutting led one man to pull out a handgun in a Sears store in San Antonio, Texas, sending a panicked crowd looking for shelter, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The dispute allegedly began when one man began cutting in line and ultimately punched another man. The man he punched allegedly pulled a gun on him — though reports vary on whether he pointed the gun at his assailant or at the ground. A witness said the assailant hid behind a refrigerator before fleeing the store. The man was not arrested because he had a concealed handgun license.

The Abandoned Child

A Massachusetts man allegedly left his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son in the car while he shopped at a Kmart in Springfield, Mass., and then went home with a new 51-inch television — but no child, 22 News WWLP reports. Police found the child sleeping in the car in the Kmart parking lot around 1:30 a.m. Friday. The man, Anthony Perry of Springfield, denied leaving the child in the car, saying he lost track of the boy in the store.

It’s unclear how Perry got from the Kmart to his house without the car he drove there in. Perry will be charged with reckless endangerment of a child, police say.

How would you like to spend a day or so off work this way?  (Report from a local Rochester NY TV station)

When you are out early in the morning covering the Black Friday shopping rush you end up meeting some interesting characters and people who defy the laws of physics getting gifts into their cars.

Toys ‘R Us opened before midnight with a line that stretched the length of the store. Karen Jones and her daughter were first in line. As Karen said this, her daughter stared at her in disbelief. “I’m going to send her for the toys I need the most. She can run fast and I’ll get the little things,” Jones said. We’re not sure how that worked out. Inside — call it organized chaos. “You only got one way. Keep going that way,” a clerk said through a bull horn.

It was the same inside the Best Buy in Greece. Long lines for games and TV’s. Austin Suter spent 30 hours waiting for the store to open and about 10 minutes shopping. “The trick is being one of the first in line and then you get out quick. The people coming in now are going to be out by 2:00AM,” Suter said. Suter doesn’t think what he and thousands of other people do on Black Friday is strange at all. “It’s nuts not-to economically because I’m saving $3,000 for a day of time because unless you can make over $3,000 in day, legally, then why not do this?” he asked. There was the engineering feat of the morning outside the Babies ‘R Us in Henrietta. Jennifer Block and her friend Lindsey Reifsteck started shopping at 7 o’clock Thursday night.

What exactly makes people spend all that money on crap?  Do they really need it?  Why is spending money on crap at the heart of these holidays?

Speculation is that we’re now going to see the start of Black Thanksgiving.

This season could mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.

For decades, stores have opened their doors in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, major chains such as Target and Sears ushered in customers on Thanksgiving itself, even before the turkey leftovers had gotten cold, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.

Despite an outcry from some employees, both stores and shoppers seemed to like it. Some people went shopping with a full belly, going straight from the dinner table to the stores. Others slept off their big meal and went to the mall before daybreak on Black Friday.

“I ate my turkey dinner and came right here,” said Rasheed Ali, a college student in New York City who bought a 50-inch TV for $349 and a sewing machine for $50 when Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. “Then I’m going home and eating more.”

This new approach could become a holiday shopping season tradition.

“It’s Black Thursday and Friday combined,” said Jackie Fernandez, a retail expert at the consulting firm Deloitte. “This is going to be a new normal of how we shop.”

It won’t be clear for a few days how many shoppers took advantage of the Thanksgiving hours. But about 17 percent of people said earlier this month that they planned to shop at stores that opened on Thanksgiving, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers.

Meanwhile, 33 percent intended to shop on Black Friday, down 1 percentage point from last year. Overall, it is estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 percent to $11.4 billion this year, according to technology company ShopperTrak, which did not forecast sales from Thanksgiving Day.

The Black Friday creep began in earnest a few years ago when stores realized that sales alone weren’t enough to lure shoppers, especially with Americans becoming more comfortable buying things online. Opening on Thanksgiving was risky, with some employees and shoppers complaining it was almost sacrilegious.

But many stores evidently felt they needed an edge, especially this season, when many Americans are worried about high unemployment and wondering whether Congress will be able to head off tax increases and spending cuts before the U.S. reaches the “fiscal cliff” in January.

Overall, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, below last year’s 5.6 percent.

“Every retailer wants to beat everyone else,” said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a firm based in Charleston, S.C. “Shoppers love it.”

At Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, most of its 4,000 U.S. namesake stores are already open 24 hours year-round. But the chain added special sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than a year ago.

The company said that its start to the holiday season was “the best ever,” with nearly 10 million transactions and 5,000 items sold per second from 8 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving.

Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year.

Macy’s, which opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, had 12,000 customers wrapped around its store in New York’s Herald Square.

The earlier start also meant the violence associated with shoppers fighting for bargains likewise began earlier. On Thanksgiving night, a couple was struck by an SUV while walking into a Wal-Mart in Washington state, and in Texas, a fight broke out when a man tried to cut the queue at a Sears store in San Antonio. Two people also were shot and wounded in Tallahassee, Fla., in a disagreement that police believe was over a parking spot outside a Wal-Mart.

Julie Hansen, a spokeswoman at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping center, reported that 30,000 shoppers showed up for the mall’s midnight opening, up from 20,000 last year. “This was additional dollars,” Hansen said. This year, 200 of the 520 mall tenants opened at midnight following Thanksgiving. That’s double from a year ago.

To be sure, it’s not clear whether the longer hours will turn into extra dollars for retailers, or whether sales will simply be spread out over two days.

The Thanksgiving openings appeared to create two waves of shoppers — the late-nights and the early birds.

Anyway, I really need to go to the hardware store for some plumbing stuff so I can actually flush my toilet instead of having to lift the tank and pull the chain.  The plastic bar broke a few days ago.  I’m wondering when it will be safe to normal things like grocery shopping and picking up a new hammer.  This is crazy.  People are crazy.  Is there any way to make it stop now please?

22 Comments on “Black Friday”

  1. Riverbird says:

    I hardly ever go shopping for anything except consumables or to replace things that break. My apartment is almost completely free of clutter and I like it that way. I’m trying to imagine how much someone would have to pay me before I’d join one of those crazy Black Friday crowds. For a million dollars I’d consider it. Not less!

    Grocery stores at least in my area aren’t affected by Black Friday. There was no line at all at Trader Joe’s this afternoon.

    • dakinikat says:

      I hate going shopping at malls on quiet days. It would take a lot of money to drag me to a mall during this time of year, let alone on black friday.

      • Beata says:

        I haven’t been to a mall in three years and never on a Black Friday. Except for food and household necessities, I rarely buy anything. I like to live very simply. My home is two rooms and a bath. It’s furnished with family things. My favorite piece of furniture is a nursing rocker that has been in the family since the 1820’s. I don’t understand the appeal of the latest gizmos. I prefer the old to the new.

        I had to go to the drugstore today to refill a prescription and the traffic was wild. It’s like the country has been taken over by Honey Boo Boo’s family and the Kardashians.

      • Beata, I love your comment!

      • Greywolf says:

        Beata, love that description. So fitting

  2. Fredster says:

    I told this over at TW: One year the momster wanted a pair of Daniel Green slippers for Christmas so I was thinking “um, okay no problem”. This was before the Black Friday stuff. Anyway I headed to The Plaza in N.O. east and when I got a block away and saw the parking lot I said “Oh nooooooooo!!!”. I turned around and got her a box of chocolate covered cherries with a note that said I would be happy to get the slippers *after* Christmas. I can’t stand crowds to begin with (anxiety issues) and to intentionally put myself into that mess? No way!

    • NW Luna says:

      That’s like me and grocery shopping before Thanksgiving. Weds I needed a couple of things, but changed my mind after I saw the cars waiting in line for parking at the local grocer. Never mind what it was, I can do without it.

      • Fredster says:

        NW: I know exactly what you mean! I made the mistake of going by the store *last week* on the 15th (?) and the place was jammed. Have no idea what that was about, but I had to get a couple of items, so my list got cut drastically to just what I absolutely needed.

    • After working retail for the first half of my life, I could never avoid the mall because we had to work. Now, I think back and say to myself, damn…we had it good. My husband has been working overnight, 14 hour days…all week. Retail is hell.

      • dakinikat says:

        I worked retail to get myself through college. I really hated it. I worked for Sears for awhile. They were pretty decent but most of the other places I worked treated us awful. I worked restaurants too. The men that managed the women were the worse in both those places. They treated you terrible and I was sexually harassed all the time.

  3. Fredster says:

    As the article stated, I’m still trying to figure out how the guy with tv got it home w/out his car. ❓

  4. Fredster says:

    Uh-oh, I’m getting hungry for a nosh, so see y’all later. Love turkey sandwiches!

  5. NW Luna says:

    I’m wondering when it will be safe to normal things like grocery shopping and picking up a new hammer.

    I agree! It’ll be a month and a half before I can stand to go to a store again. Should have reminded myself to get all shopping for staple goods done before the Tues before Thanksgiving.

  6. Greywolf says:

    “The man was not arrested because he had a concealed handgun license.”

    So, pulling a gun in a crowd where innocent people could accidentally get shot is okay. Let me get my Kevlar so I can go shopping. /snark

    Those concealed handgun permits have created a horrible and dangerous situation.

    • NW Luna says:

      WTF? Still sounds like threat with a lethal weapon. Helluva reason to carry: intimidate other shoppers who grab the sale crap before you do.

  7. surfric says:

    Thanks for the Steely Dan. One of the most perfect albums ever was Katy Lied. I went to Best Buy on Black Friday, which should have been the epicenter of black friday madness, and it was just a busier than average day, and not by that much. Like most things today, the hype has taken on a life of its own….