Black Friday is coming and the internet, just like every year, has been lit up by outraged employees, so-called activists, anti-establishment types, holiday traditionalists, and so many more detailing how no one should shop on Black Friday, or especially Thanksgiving.
Depending on who you ask you’re either feeding nasty corporate machines who work their employees on the worst days of the year, and pay them little for their efforts – or you’re contributing to a growing problem where Black Friday becomes Black Thursday.
One piece in particular by Emily Madriga pointed out something that is regularly referenced by those individuals who think the answer is simply not shopping. On the surface, that logic is correct. But, it’s only accurate to a certain degree. Yes, if everyone stopped shopping on Black Friday, or Black Thursday there would be no need for stores to open, and ultimately they would not – if they weren’t making money. If that’s the case though, we’re an incredibly hypocritical bunch because people flock to stores on Black Thursday, and Friday, even with all of the outrage around the human interest of the issue.
I got my first job in retail when I was 16, as a holiday employee. I left retail after working my way up, and through the management chain, before I felt my last few drops of sanity leaking out of my body. I say that because contrary to what most people believe – a lot of retail employees, especially those who are part-time – don’t just enjoy the opportunity to work on “Black Thursday” but oftentimes are fighting over the hours to receive “holiday pay.” That being said though, as someone who has made my fair share of “Black Friday Schedules,” I understand that not everyone shares that sentiment, and some would just rather sit Black Thursday out entirely.
However, as it pertains to shopping, staffing, and the overall existence of Black Friday, it would be incredibly naive to say that the answer is everyone boycotting Black Friday. In fact, Black Friday as a whole has been trending down for several years since it peaked in the mid-to-late 00’s.
Now, I can already imagine people yelling at their computer screens because sales continue to increase by and large. However, the sales increases in most cases do not compensate for the greater length of time spent open and operating. Meaning, every year that there is a sales increase – it ultimately becomes a wash because stores are open longer, and expenses then increase – like staffing, more holiday pay, electrical expenses, and so on.
The next point is addressing the misconception that stores are competing with each other on Black Friday. Sure, to a certain degree they’re competing with each other – but again – Black Friday is about something larger than that. Everyday sales have decreased in brick and mortar establishments, and at the end of the day – whether it’s Black Friday or the slowest day in February – online retailers are taking market share from traditional retailers.
Shopping is easier online, many stores offer free shipping, and oftentimes prices are straight-up cheaper.
For example, take a look at Amazon: For virtually every individual item you search – there are upwards of hundreds of sellers listed underneath selling the exact same item.
Amazon does a great job of sorting them, and giving you the best and most reliable price option – but when you go Black Friday shopping next weekend, you’ll undoubtedly have a few things in mind. As result, even if you go to the best mall in the entire country, your options for store selection will be limited based on who actually sells what you’re looking for. As result of that, your price points will likely be similar between all the stores available.
Meanwhile, Amazon gives you hundreds of options, for the same thing, and they’ll even get it to your doorstep in a day, or two, if you’re in a hurry.
So, the next time you hear someone saying Black Friday should be boycotted, or given to employees as a vacation day – remind them that eventually brick and mortar establishments aren’t going to exist the way they do today 10-20 years from now. They’re already changing, limiting stock options in house, increasing their online presence, and limiting the number of employees that are found in each store.
In 2012 there were 4,668,300 employees who worked in the “retail industry,” and given that it provided me with a good living, for a good length of my life, I would like to kindly say that I don’t want to see a labor force that has those 4,668,300 people entirely unemployed, and looking for a job.