In 2005 I reluctantly went shopping with my husband on Black Friday. I remember getting up at 4 a.m. thinking he was crazy to be going out this early in the morning for some piece of electronics on sale at Best Buy. But, I did it.
Admittedly, I ended up enjoying it. It was kind of cool to find the gadget he was looking for and then have some store employee set up a cash register in the middle of the store. We happened to be there and some how got lucky enough to avoid a line and get out of there.
We were quickly on to the next store – JCPenney, Target, Old Navy and before we knew it, our small car was full. We didn’t need half of it, but were excited by the deals we discovered. By Thanksgiving 2006, I was excited to again get up at 4 a.m. and hit the stores.
We went again for the next five years, but continued to notice that sales were not as good, it wasn’t as exciting and wasn’t worth the 4 a.m. alarm. Was it just us? Did we grow out of Black Friday? Likely not.
As NBC’s TODAY show recently reported, Black Friday sales may not be as good as we all think. In fact, its made me think the idea of Black Friday is a more about the tradition, instead of saving a lot of money.
Walmart might have the crockpot, or other toys and items on sale, but they will likely have the same sale another time during the holiday season – they just won’t get much attention for it. The question becomes – is buying a $20 crockpot, or the big-sale toys and electronics worth the trip?
It still might be worth it on the actual Black Friday, especially for the sake of tradition, but what about Thanksgiving? I can’t imagine anything being worth sacrificing family time, football and great food on a holiday where family and giving thanks is the point.
However, stores such as Walmart, Best Buy and Kmart are no longer about respecting tradition. They are keeping the Black Friday tradition alive, they aren’t respecting what a holiday like Thanksgiving is supposed to mean. In their defense, plenty of consumers are taking them up on their offer. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 35 million consumers hit the early store openings on Thanksgiving.
In reading those numbers I just keep wondering what could be so much more important? Besides good food and watching the traditional Dallas Cowboys’ game, our family went to the park, we took pictures, played games and had a wonderful day. No sale item can replace what I would have missed just on this Thanksgiving.
Now, online shopping is another story. On Thanksgiving morning, and again on Thanksgiving evening, I took advantage of some deals without leaving my home. That means I did not step foot into a store where a cashier or employee was required to skip time with their families so stores like Walmart might make an extra buck this holiday season.
More and more, the traditions involving family time and down time at home are being replaced by corporate America’s need for more money. These decisions need to be met with resistance so they stop. However, that’s not going to happen until consumers stop going to the stores on these holidays.
In the end, we’ve lost some of the magic in Black Friday without great sales, opening on Thanksgiving takes away from tradition and really none of it is worth it.