Monday, November 24, 2014

Toaster's Ramblings - Black Friday Sales on Thanksgiving Edition

Why the hell are stores opening for Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving afternoon... which is a THURSDAY?! This means, if you are  gunning for a great deal on a cheap laptop or television (the latter I am was hoping to get), then you need to effectively not celebrate Thanksgiving. You will need to camp out in front of the store for many hours earlier, which would be about Noon to 4 pm, if you want any shot at the high demand 'doorbusters.' It's bad enough that the stores make their poor employees work during all of Thanksgiving now, but apparently the customers aren't allowed to celebrate with their families either! This has irritated me so much, I haven't even wanted to peruse the Black Friday adds online for fear that I will just become agitated at all the gifts I can only get for people if I bail on my family's traditional dinner. That is not a sacrifice I or any other person should have to make!

I thought this crap was ridiculous last year when stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy were opening around 7pm or 8pm. (Actually Wal-mart never closed, they just had "phases" of their Black Friday sales that started at staggered times throughout the day and night. The in demand stuff just happened to go on sale around 7pm.) This, however, is terrible. Whatever happened to actually having Black Friday sales on FRIDAY? What happened to stores opening at 6am for those shoppers willing to be up that early (or late in my case)? I had no problem with that. In fact, I kind of liked it! It was fun to hang out with my friend for hours, hanging out at one of our houses and watching movies until it was time to sit outside a store in lawn chairs. It was better for employees as they usually got to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families the day earlier, better for customers that got to do the same and honestly, it seemed fair. It had that whole "early bird gets the worm" sentiment. If you were willing to be up at 4 or 5 in the morning and brave the elements and crowds, you could get incredibly cheap items for yourself or others.

But now, unless you have no familial attachments or can somehow have a Thanksgiving dinner in the line outside of Best Buy, you're going to miss out. It's one thing for me to miss sleep for doorbusters; it's another to have to sacrifice a yearly tradition with family, some of which I only get to see during Thanksgiving.

Why is this how things have to be? It's probably a combination of three things. The first is to try to reduce frenzied mobs. A few years ago, a Wal-Mart employee was killed when customers burst down the doors and trampled him. That kind of behavior is sickening and thankfully I have never witnessed anything that horrible. However, opening your doors earlier won't prevent that. Stores need better security and protocols to keep everything orderly. The second is probably to try to cater to more customers that don't want to shop before sunrise. I doubt many of them will be as willing to skip Turkey Day as a trade-off. The last and most likely reason is simply to be one step ahead of the competition. If one store opens at 8pm, another will open at 7pm. Chances are, the first store customers hit may be the only store they hit due to fatigue or (as I'm sure retailers hope) they spend all of their money.

To me, that reasoning is just greedy. It's yet another example of placing money before people. Stores like Wal-Mart and Target try to foster the image of being all about families. Well, what's more family than Thanksgiving? Part of me hopes that shoppers won't come out in droves this year just to prove that opening during their holiday and family time is outrageous and wrong... but I'm sure the allure of getting cheap stuff will win out over common sense.

I'll still go out for the sales, but not until AFTER my Thanksgiving dinner including a slice of pumpkin pie at the end. I will probably just be buying cheap DVD's anyway. That television I was going to try to get? I'm probably going to order it online during one of the many Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. That means the 'brick and mortar' stores that greedily dismiss their employee's and customer's holiday traditions to get one step ahead won't get that money. It may not matter to them in the short term, but it might in the long term. Stupid practices like this will continue to cause retailers like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart to lose ground to internet competition. Last year we bought the very laptop I am typing this on from a website on Thanksgiving day so that I wouldn't have to stress about braving crowds and competing for limited number of available doorbusters. That's a few hundred dollars Best Buy didn't make. How long until people decide to stop suffering the cold, the crowds, the rudeness and the lines in exchange for simply clicking a few buttons within the comfort of their homes? Nibble on that drumstick, retailers.

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