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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Black Friday ruins the holidays…

The calendar may still say that it’s November, but for retailers, every day before Dec. 25 is Christmas.

It happens every year: Thanksgiving becomes a quick afterthought, and the day after Thanksgiving simply becomes “Christmas.” Or, Thanksgiving doesn’t happen at all if you wait outside of Best Buy at 5 p.m. for the next day’s free gadget that you don’t have a practical use for, but only want because you get it free for nearly freezing to death the night before. Plus, receive a bonus gift that you don’t care for if you have frostbitten fingers when the doors open!

While watching the news this past week, the impression I received from the multiple reports on “Black Friday” was that it was the make or break moment for retailers. It almost becomes like Christmas for the retail industry. Each company waits in anticipation to see if they will get the Christmas financial miracle of getting into the black, or a giant lump of coal of staying in the red. Forget the other 10 months of the year, November and December are the only months that matter.

In fact, “Black Friday” was originally a name for the day within the retailing industry. Now it seems to be christened by the media as the day’s official title. Sure, there may be some fair deals to take advantage of on Black Friday (that is, unless the stores have only ordered two of the item you want, and you’re the third customer), but overall, the day simply serves to kick off a fully fledged and overhyped phenomenon known as “The Holiday Season.”

It’s bad enough that I began seeing Christmas commercials for stores the week before Halloween (and I thought Nov. 1 was bad last year!), but it’s frustrating to see Thanksgiving has all but dissipated into “Black Friday Eve.” There is no longer a sense of separation between Thanksgiving and Christmas to the retailers and the media that excessively cover their ups and downs in the market.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to settle down and relax with a nice meal with your family. But on the day after? Anything goes. People are given free reign to max out their credit cards and buy large amounts of material goods that likely aren’t necessities for the beneficiary. We’re supposed to have a slice of humble pie on Thanksgiving and count our blessings, but the next day the American public is craving more and more. We need to forget about being grateful for what we have, let’s talk about what’s next on our wish list!

It’s bad enough that Black Friday is as big as it is, but it’s made even worse by the media’s incessant coverage of the sales and people waiting in line the night before and the day of the sales. I had heard so much about the sales being offered at the stores on the news that I didn’t even need to look in the newspaper or on the stores’ Web sites to find out what was being offered! Of course, in case I didn’t know how to find the sales on the Internet, the news outlets advertised numerous Web sites that listed the deals at each store. If it was too difficult to watch the commercials, the newscasts even integrated mentions of the sales, special gifts and store openings into their general newscasts.

The line was blurred between news and advertising last week, and in my eyes, the news simply became a product placement showcase. There was no need for commercial airtime; retailers got their face time for free right during the show! Viewers had the chance to see the long lines at Target and other chains on the news that evening, giving them free publicity. “Hey, if all of those people are waiting in line, I should be too! The stores must be offering something good!”

I’m not saying that presents are bad, or that you shouldn’t look to get good deals when you are buying them. Christmas can be a joyous time of giving, but the consumerist feelings that are evoked throughout the season are too much too soon. If you celebrate Christmas, the season should be focused on Dec. 25, not on the false holiday created by retail and propagated by the media known as Black Friday and the 31 days of Christmas to follow.

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