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Spend now, be thankful later

By Enzo Nagao
On December 7, 2015

The irony of Black Friday is rarely lost on the American consumer; that a day of consumeristic indulgence and frenzied spending comes after a day dedicated to spending time with family and being thankful for things is pure hypocrisy, to say the least. 

Yet the trend of violent stampedes to get a flat-screen television may be changing, as both the advent of online shopping and a push for employee’s rights have shifted attitudes towards Black Friday significantly. 

According to Shoppertrak, a consumer insight service based in Chicago, brick-and-mortar sales this holiday season were somewhere around $12.1 billion combined sales, a marked decrease from the 2014 season. The service attributes this decrease to “social backlash over store openings over the holiday,” as well as more cautious shopping by consumers. 

Social support for employees also seems to be a rising trend. Sporting goods store Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) announced before Thanksgiving weekend that it would be closing specifically for Black Friday. 

CEO Jerry Strizke maintained on a Reddit AMA that “we’re paying our 12,000 employees to take the day off and we’re encouraging them to opt out of the Black Friday madness and spend the day outdoors with loved ones.”

Although the company was criticized for closing as a publicity stunt rather than out of genuine compassion, the fact remains that working on Black Friday is an ugly and exhausting affair for all employees, regardless of position. 

One store supervisor for the Coral Ridge Mall’s J.C. Penney, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that “It [Black Friday] always takes time away from associates and their families, and I think that’s really unfair. I think that family should always come first. As far as the company goes, it’s great for making money, but it’s somewhat unfair to the employees.”

Zachary Smith, a Kirkwood Student who works for Theisen’s, said, “I wish we didn’t have to work, but I guess we wouldn’t make any money, then. Considering that most companies make their money on Black Friday,  I’d have to say that it’s kind of necessary.”

Whether it’s a preference for online shopping or moral standards, Black Friday remains a highly controversial holiday that is embroiled in social, political, and cultural issues that are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. While it does make vast amounts of money for companies, the question remains: Is it worth it? 

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