Words: Jacob Mauer
Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a time for appreciating family, food, and all that we hold dear to us. This contrasts greatly with the Black Friday controlled Thanksgiving we celebrate today. Black Friday began as a time when stores would turn financial loss, in the “red,” into profit, “in the black”. Black Friday began in 1960, and is still with us due to it’s ability to generate massive amounts of profit in very little time. All stores have to do is set lower prices and watch as hordes of families mindlessly flow into their stores.
In the past, the two events have been held on the fourth Thursday and Friday of every November. However, stores have started to begin sales the night before the traditional date. Some states prohibit sales on Thanksgiving because of “blue laws”. These laws, which were put into effect in the 1600’s, prohibit sales on certain days. In the past, the laws prohibited sales on Sundays, but Thanksgiving is also protected in some states. Every year, more and more people are beginning to abandon Thanksgiving traditions in favor of waiting for Black Friday sales. Thanksgiving dinners are being cut short and family members are being sent home earlier and earlier as the years progress.
Over the course of just nine years, there have been seven deaths and ninety-eight injuries linked to Black Friday shopping. Although most of the incidents were due to negligent motorists, uncaring of pedestrians, a fair amount of the fatalities were linked to brawls between customers in stores and in parking lots.
On the night of Thanksgiving, 2012 the Tandel family lost two of their daughters in a car accident on their way home from Black Friday shopping. Arvind Tandel, the father, was driving his wife and four daughters back from shopping on Black Friday at 6:49am. Mr. Tandel, having only had a few hours of sleep, drifted into traffic, causing a collision which resulted in his two daughters being killed.
There is no reason why Black Friday needs to be the day following Thanksgiving. I am in favor of moving Black Friday to a different date, separate from Thanksgiving. It feels wrong to go from talking amongst family and friends about gratitude, to searching desperately for the best deal of the night. It isn’t just people breaking tradition, it is people jeopardizing their safety for sale items. If stores continue to compete for earlier opening times and bigger sales, then I predict that the same stores will set a precedent for other holidays to be infringed upon.
This year Recreational Equipment Incorporated (R.E.I), an outdoor equipment store, has released a statement saying they will be closing all of their 143 stores on BlackFriday. In lieu of promoting sales, R.E.I created their own campaign encouraging people to spend time outside instead of participating in Black Friday. R.E.I is using #OptOutside to encourage people to show how they are spending their Black Friday. Jerry Stritzke, C.E.O. and president of R.E.I. says, “We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently.”
Hopefully other Companies will follow R.E.I’s footsteps and refrain from having such sales so close to a national holiday.
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