In Defense of Black Friday: A Holiday Sales Story

Holiday Sales ImageNow that it’s almost Christmas, I am looking back on the last two months of holiday sales frenzy with mixed feelings.  Despite the economic growth we’ve experienced and the role our retail sales industry plays in it, I have been hearing a lot of negative comments regarding Black Friday and holiday shopping activities.  Even South Park has satirized the supposed insanity of the crowds during this season with a Game of Thrones parody.

I have a confession to make, I am a Black Friday veteran.  I’m proud of the good old days of how holiday sales used to be.  My mother trained me from the tender age of eleven on how to participate in the biggest holiday shopping day of the year.  I was the oldest of three kids, so I got to be Santa’s helper, dodging through the crowds to pick up the sales items on Santa’s shopping list.  I do believe that the holiday has gone downhill in the last few years, and opening stores a day early spoils much of what I used to love about Black Friday.  But I don’t agree with all the naysayers and negative talk about insane shoppers ruining the spirit of the holiday season.  I feel the need to defend those who brave the crowds in the freezing cold to go out during this time of year, even as early as Thanksgiving evening, to get deals on special items and gifts for the people they love.

Here are the top ten reasons to stop the negative talk and support shopping during the holiday season.

  1. There is a sense of community – When my mother and I used to get up at 5am to stand outside the doors of a department store with a hot cup of coffee to keep us warm, we weren’t alone.  Other shoppers waited with us, and we would happily pass the time chatting with them.  The perception that shoppers lay in wait so they can claw each other’s eyes out the moment the doors open comes from a few bad incidences over the years and is certainly not the norm.
  2. Strategizing is fun – We used to get all the ads out of the newspaper and lay them out all over the living room floor on Thanksgiving evening to plan out our Black Friday route.  Which stores would price match?  Which had the best door gift?  What did we need from the holidays sales this year?  It was so much fun.
  3. There actually are real deals to be had – Sure, bait-and-switch happens a LOT.  And yes, most “sales” are a pricing ruse.  But if you are strategic (see above) and get to the right doorbuster deal, then you can get great deals.
  4. You get up early (and you aren’t grumpy about it) – This was the one day a year where waking up when it was still dark outside wasn’t a nuisance, it was exhilarating.  When you get your coffee and stand outside with strangers in the cold, you wake up real quick.
  5. You can infect others with the shopping bug – Great holiday sales are sure to attract some newbies to the fun, and there is no better way to cement a friendship than to bring them along for the biggest shopping ride of the year.  I will never forget the first time I took my husband Black Friday shopping.  He finally understood what I’d been talking about all those years, and we had a blast!
  6. It officially begins the holiday season – These days you might see holiday/Christmas decorations out before Halloween.  But the really good stuff, the lights on the trees, the wreaths on the doors, the real holiday cheer, doesn’t come out till after Thanksgiving is officially over.  There isn’t much that can compare to the lights and decorations of the holiday season.
  7. Bonding with the family – I never felt closer to my mother than when we were out Christmas shopping for the family every year.  Not only on Black Friday, but checking off the gift list through December was, and still is, a special treat.
  8. Yes, you can stock up for yourself – This goes against my Santa’s helper training, but I do believe that holiday sales make this a really good time of year to stock up on things you need for yourself too.  Back in college, I didn’t always have the funds to go out and buy the new laptop I needed for school on a whim.  Nope, I did it on Black Friday, grabbing up a doorbuster deal and saving myself much needed money for college in the process.
  9. It creates special memories – When all was said and done, around 10am in the morning, after hours of jumping store to store for the right holiday sales and shopping our brains out, my mother and I would go out to breakfast together.  Some of my most cherished childhood memories are of these special breakfast times together celebrating the victories of the day.
  10. Saving money allows for more Christmas joy – Sure, sure, you shouldn’t spoil your kids rotten with too many toys, we all know that.  But find me a parent that doesn’t look forward to the moment their kid’s eyes light up on Christmas morning as they spot the presents under the Christmas tree, magically transported there overnight from Santa’s sleigh.

At the risk of sounding cliché, that is what the holiday season is really all about, bringing magic and joy to kids and adults alike all around the world.  I personally love buying other people presents and seeing them open them on Christmas morning.  Holiday sales like Black Friday make more of that possible, so, in my opinion, they really can’t be all that bad.  Can they?

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