This tradition had a very humble beginning and had nothing to do with shopping. The term was born in 1966 in Philadelphia where the city used this term to describe the extra flow of traffic (particularly pedestrians) on the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until 1975 that this saying spread beyond PA.
Historians are divided on whether or not the day referred to the amount of Black people walking the streets of Philadelphia or vehicle traffic in general. The media helped to dramatize this day by claiming it was the busiest shopping day of the year.
Truth be told, the Saturday before Christmas has held this title for years. It wasn’t until 1993 that the day after Christmas became the number one shopping day. Black Friday did not have the title of number one shopping day consistently until 2005 and it has been the number one shopping day since.
Capitalism’s favorite holiday is reported to be off to a great start. There were more shoppers out spending money than in recent years and this year it started a day early! There was much debate about companies “stealing” time on Thanksgiving and some tried to protest. I don’t know the actual numbers, but driving past a Walmart on the evening of Thanksgiving looked more like more people bypassed the second helping to spend money!
The worst part of the shopping season for me is that sales ads will be more obnoxious than political ads during a presidential election year! Crazy ads where companies are trying to unload their summer and fall leftovers masquerading as the greatest deal on earth. Operation: Make room for spring things is in full affect!
The question here is this: Do we really believe that we, as the consumers, are getting the best deals on these days? If we didn’t shop on “black friday” or decided to spend our dollars throughout the year instead of during the Christmas season, what would the day be called?
For years, retailers have over-charged us to make their money. That was fine until they got greedy. Items get marked up five to 10 times the cost to make them. What then actually happens is that retail shops sell off the year-end items (leftovers) as Christmas gifts. So if an item was marked up four times its wholesale price, the retailer will sell it for mark up during the products peak season. Then the item may drop to half off. A profit is still made on that item and it looks like we’ve gotten a great deal.
This retail information is not new. We all understand this, but we keep buying. I would like to think that we’re emphasizing the fellowship and togetherness as best friends, dads and sons, daughters and moms hanging out for a day of shopping, eating and laughing. It’s just too bad we have to spend money or need a holiday of sorts to get us to spend quality time. And many folks spend more than they have to impress, say sorry or over love the people in their lives. Some children are overindulged and others have nothing. It’s the time of year for haves, not have nots, but you will see everyone showing the money!
Life is too short. Make quality time a priority this season. Let those you love know how you feel…before your life gets interrupted permanently.