Since the 1950’s, millions of Americans have lined up, camping outside of malls and store for hours and even days to score deals on everything from refrigerators and televisions to stock pots and toaster ovens on shopping’s biggest day. But with the rise of Cyber Monday and online shopping, many consumers are staying home. This begs the question of whether a traditional Black Friday experience is worth it in the modern day.
Although the deals may be to die for, people have actually died as a result of Black Friday madness. Since 2006, ten deaths and 111 injuries have occurred. Overly aggressive shoppers have caused store closures, fights, shootings, and stabbings. In 2011, a woman pepper sprayed a crowd at a Los Angeles Walmart. The next year, two people fighting over a parking space were shot outside of a Tallahassee Walmart. Finally, the last Black Friday had 3 people shot in separate incidents in New Jersey, Nevada, and Tennessee. The most infamous Black Friday case happened in 2008, when a Walmart employee, Jdimytai Damour, was trampled to death by a crowd of 2000 shoppers. Black Friday turns sane people into savages. So, it’s probably best to avoid the crowds and be safe. With the rise of online shopping, consumers can shop from the comfort of their own couch and not miss a thing. 2017 saw record numbers in online shopping. Over five billion was spent on Black Friday and over six billion on Cyber Monday, increasing almost 17% since last year.
Online spending is up for good reason. Most of the biggest retail stores (including Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and Best Buy) offer deals found in store, online as well. Some even offer special deals for online shoppers and most companies offer free shipping. Online shopping giants, like Amazon and eBay, have made names for themselves. The companies offer deals on an incredible number of products – many of which can’t be found in any store or mall.
An additional reason to stay at home is that stores are opening earlier and earlier. In 2017, stores opened their doors as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. This means that people may have to abandon their Thanksgiving dinners to have a chance at a store’s best deals. By the time most people hit the stores, shelves are wiped clean and most products are gone. Retail stores have infringed on a holiday that is supposed to bring families together. How ironic – we celebrate a holiday that teaches us to be thankful for all that we have and hours later, we spend all our money on material things. Companies are killing a sacred day for millions of Americans, including those employees who are forced to work.
Shopping in stores, however, still remains king. Over 100 million Americans braved the crowds, spending over $59 billion, an average of about $400 per person. Over the years, it has solidified itself as a tradition. Black Friday, in its own right, has become as big as Thanksgiving itself. Going out for Black Friday has its benefits. Some smaller stores and businesses don’t have online shopping. Deals, while comparable online, are at its best in stores – while they last that is. Buying in person also gives you the benefit of knowing exactly what you’re buying. On a day in which you will probably spend the most money of the year, you want to know exactly what you’re buying.
Whether you choose to shop online or fight the crowds, both benefit the economy tremendously. Most stores see their largest profits of the year on Black Friday. While it is a great sign to see so many people spending so much money, it is important this holiday season to remember what matters most. There will always be deals and the material things will always be there. The holidays, however, are the season of giving. Give a little to the less fortunate, who are unable to splurge. And however you spend your Black Friday, be grateful for the things that you do have.