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September 22, 2023

Why you should stay away from the retail stores on Black Friday

By Ian Yu | November 15, 2012

Towards the end of next week, most students will return home or at least gather with friends and family to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. But the last thing anyone should do is get up early the next day and venture to the biggest mess in American consumer culture, Black Friday.

Always drawing heaps of excitement, Black Friday draws in throngs of consumers scrambling to get the “best deals” and “steepest discounts” on gifts for the holidays. Shoppers will crowd the nation’s malls and department stores, clog every roadway and fill every parking spot. At the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, the country’s largest outlet shopping mall, parking will be available to shoppers at the nearby Bear Mountain State Park – a good 20 minute drive away. Yes, there will be shuttles, but the traffic will be a nightmare.

Why is it, though, that the start of the holiday shopping season brings such a huge mess nationwide in a country such as ours? The madness never ceases to falter and the craziness only gets worse. Walmart recently made headlines for the boldest and perhaps most ridiculous change to the Black Friday clock: they’re starting at 8PM on Thanksgiving. Sure, they opened at 10PM last year and other retailers opened at midnight, but just a little over a decade ago, shoppers and workers alike at least got some sleep after their turkey dinner before venturing out at 6AM on Friday.

Worse still, Black Friday has brought out the ugly side of Americans in recent years. Four years ago, a Walmart employee was trampled to death in Valley Stream, N.Y. when a crowd of 2,000 shoppers broke down the doors. Two years ago, a man in Madison, Wisconsin threatened fellow shoppers with a gun who objected to him cutting in line outside a Toys ‘R’ Us. And just last year, a woman used pepper spray on fellow shoppers waiting in line at the Walmart in Porter Ranch, Calif.

Sure these are extreme cases, but Americans need to wean themselves off this shopping addiction driven in large part by the major retailers. The smallest differences in discounts can go either way during the ensuing four weeks leading to Christmas and a steadier distribution of shopper traffic can achieve the same sales targets which retailers set for themselves.

The only way that Americans can send a message is to boycott Black Friday. Sure, workers have made some effort – especially those at a number of Walmart locations nationwide who plan to strike in protest of the egregious hours – but the loudest voice is the consumer. Poor numbers for Black Friday sales would echo across corporate America.

Better yet, get some of your shopping done at a small business or other local entity. It does not have be on Small Business Saturday, but show your support for businesses that actually treat their workers with dignity and can meet consumer demands.

Instead of perpetuating the monument of horror in American consumerism, take the last Friday of November to enjoy time with friends and family. Make turkey sandwiches, get outside – just do something as far away from the shopping centers as possible.

Ian Yu is a senior Biophysics major from Highland Mills, NY. He is a managing editor for The News-Letter.

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