Not So Thankful For Black Friday

This Thanksgiving, you may find yourself out in the cold, waiting for the doors of super retail stores to open much earlier than before.

Unsurprisingly, corporate greed has encouraged certain stores to open their doors to the public earlier on the infamous Black Friday. In fact, they are no longer opening on Friday at all. Instead, stores like Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, K-Mart and Sears are all starting the crazy rush of holiday shopping at 8 p.m. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. True, in the past few years, these stores and others have pushed their opening hours earlier and earlier, but some are saying, with good reason, that this year they’ve gone too far.

In the past, people have had time to eat Thanksgiving dinner at home, stay around for a few laughs, maybe grab some dessert, and then head out to wait in the ridiculous lines that herald Black Friday. However, since the retail giants are opening so incredibly early this year, you may not actually have time for that Thanksgiving get-together. If you’re an avid shopper looking for those amazing Black Friday deals, you know that you need to head over to the retail store at least two hours in advance to actually secure yourself a spot, meaning you would start camping out on the side of the store at 6 p.m., and that in itself is probably too late to get a good spot in line.

But 6 p.m. is when most families are sitting down to enjoy their holiday with one another and give thanks for all that they have. Suddenly, shopping time is cutting into family time. People who want those steal deals for whatever reason (economic troubles, early cheap holiday shopping or just plain submission to consumerism) will have to decide if they want to have dinner with the ones they love, or camp out on the street in the cold, waiting for doors to open.

This is, of course, fueled by corporations trying to stay ahead of their competition by opening their doors earlier to attract more customers. Since businesses know that people will come out to the first day of profitable sales no matter what happens, it makes sense that these retail giants want to get a bigger slice of the economic pie. Even though everyone knows this is simply a ploy for businesses to get more money, people will show up to these stores at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. on Thursday night, ready to get whatever they can at a discount price. And more and more people will join them as the night goes on. It’s consumerism at its finest – the fact that there is a limited supply of items up for the titular sale drives people to think that if they don’t get it first, someone else will.

We’ve seen this sort of mentality through horror stories covered by the news – one person gets caught up in buying whatever they can and they pepper spray others to slow them down. Others manage to get into a brawl over who grabbed what first, leading to hospitalizations. And the worst is when employees get caught in the tirade, with one example being a few years back when a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death when the customers made a mad dash into the store. Our consumerism that both feeds and is fueled by corporate greed has started to make us willing participants in a dangerous rat race.

Luckily, many groups have expressed public outrage for the blatant disregard for not only Thanksgiving, but also for the private lives of employees who simply want to enjoy the holiday with their families. Petitions on websites like “change.org” have gathered many supporters to end this constant encroachment of Thanksgiving, but it may be too little too late. At least for this year.

Next year, if activism continues and petitions get signed earlier, stores may be obliged to open later like they have in years past, giving people at least a few hours to meet with their loved ones instead of no time at all. People could always boycott the early openings by simply not going, but let’s be real, people will still show up and the sales will still happen.

For now though, Black Thursday seems like it’s set in stone. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure to remember the holiday we’re actually supposed to be celebrating and give thanks for what you do have, and not just focus on what you want.

I, for one, will probably just eat dinner and play board games with my family. Shopping can wait. I wouldn’t want to trade the precious moments I have with all my family and friends for some toy or device that I really don’t need. That just seems like a black deal to me.

Alec Snavely is a third-year English and electrical engineering double major. He can be reached at asnavely@uci.edu.