Black Friday shopping overshadows family-oriented holiday season

For many, the holiday season revolves around a significant amount of gift giving. This time of year, making an extraordinary effort in order to be kind to one another and to appreciate those we hold dear is seemingly a given. It is with these ideals, however, that college students spend money we do not have to buy gifts for our loved ones. Black Friday is the iconic day when grown adults stampede through the door of a department store—in danger of hurting themselves or others—to save $200 on a television. Like many, I have fallen victim to these enticing annual sales, but I have realized that it is time to say, “Enough is enough.”

Black Friday has slowly transformed from an eight-hour shopping event into a four-day shopping frenzy. It seems that stores open their doors earlier and earlier each year, with “door buster deals” designed to drive in paying customers.

Some companies have introduced special Black Friday operating hours, with some stores opening at 5 a.m. Many stores even open their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, according to, a website dedicated to cataloging the day’s festivities. With the evolution of technology, Cyber Monday was created to make the shopping experience easier and to extend the consumer holiday.

CEOs of successful corporations hold some responsibility for this madness, but it is nearly impossible to blame them alone––they’re appealing to the demands of consumers. Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon reiterated this idea in 2013, saying, “If the traffic is any indication, [consumers] clearly want to shop on Thursday evening. We’ll provide that for them.”

Executives keep infringing on Thanksgiving––a day for spending time with family and giving thanks––because the consumers let them. A 2016 Mindshare survey found that men were “aiming” to spend close to $420 on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday shopping, while women predicted spending closer to $250. When coupled with the fact that millions of Americans engaged in Black Friday shopping, the day generates a huge profit. Additionally, 2016 was a record-breaking year in terms of the number of people who turned out for the shopping event.

Online Black Friday sales hit a new high at $3.34 billion this year, with $1.2 billion of that coming from mobile devices, according to TechCrunch. If this trend continues, we may see retailers decide to sell exclusively online on Thanksgiving evening in order to save the labor costs associated with running a store on a holiday.

There is hope for change to this holiday, however, as competition between companies continuously increases. Customers are as informed as ever when it comes to finding the best deals and, in response, companies such as Wal-Mart and Target fight over offering the lowest prices. This leads to lower profit margins and less benefit for the retailers.

Holidays aren’t meant for trampling strangers when busting through the door of Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. Yes, giving gifts makes you seem like a thoughtful person, but the moments that you share with friends and family this holiday season are even more valuable.