Two more days till Thanksgiving!
With two days to go until the holiday, and three until the unofficial start of Christmas, why don’t we delve into the time-honored tradition of post-Thanksgiving shopping?
Black Friday, as it has been called officially since the early 2000s, has actually been a day-after-Thanksgiving tradition since 1952. Of course, until only a decade or so ago, it wasn’t the survival of the fittest competition it is now.
The first official use of the phrase “Black Friday” was in Philadelphia, dating back to 1961, and actually refers to the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic the day after Thanksgiving. While not an official holiday, for government, school, and non-retail employees, it is considered “The Day After Thanksgiving,” and in California (and a few other states), Black Friday is observed as a holiday. This is done, at times, in lieu of Columbus Day.
The day always promises door buster sales, but I only remember in recent years, it being one where people go crazy and line up days beforehand, sacrificing family and holiday time to wait in line for heavily discounted televisions. People get unleashed into a store where it is a fight for your merchandise. If you get trampled, you’re probably weak.
I worked in retail for two Christmases every Saturday and Sunday as a store greeter where my mom worked, but my first day of the season was always Black Friday. Back in 1999 and 2000, Black Friday felt a little more sedate by comparison to today’s Black Friday. The stores always opened at 6 am (mom and I didn’t come in until 9 am), but the mall was generally quiet on that side, because KB Toys was on the other end of the mall. That, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target were the major retailers at the time in our area, and that’s where everyone went. These days, every major chain (except Toys R Us – for more obvious reasons) have people lined up waiting outside for the deals. And not only do they have early morning/overnight doorbusters, these stores open up at 5 or 6 pm on Thanksgiving night so people can get the best deals. Remember when that didn’t happen?
Look no further than 1983, and this news story:
Black Friday, in 30 years, went from “I may bump elbows with someone” to “I may get crushed by a few hundred people.”
I actually live right down the street from a mall and several shopping centers. Even when I still lived with my parents (same town, just in a different area, but very close to the mall and shopping), we couldn’t avoid driving through that area and seeing the goings on. On Thanksgiving a few years ago, I actually went through every shopping center in the area just to see the craziness. I’d done that earlier in the day, but it was all tents and quietness at the time.
This year, I’ll be eating at my parents house, and my fiancee and I will head back home in the middle of Thanksgiving night doorbusters. We’ll have to pass the mall and the shopping center across the street to get back to our neighborhood, so we’ll no doubt get caught up in some of the traffic. Personally, I’d rather be in the car spectating than actually in the thick of it all. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday (except for online), and I don’t think I’ll start any time soon.