Black Friday has been the terrifying celebration of ravenous American consumerism for the last few decades. The day after Thanksgiving has become almost synonymous with the beginning of the Christmas season, usually featuring extremely low prices and extreme violence. But this year, thanks to physical distancing restrictions required by the global pandemic, employees everywhere were able to heave a sigh of relief as Black Friday was pushed almost completely online. There was no pushing, killing or media coverage of soccer moms going feral in order to purchase a PS5. With all the positives that could come from following this same setup in the following years, we as Americans need to let this consumerist tradition evolve past its days of caveman violence.
If you’re anything like me, you turn on the TV on Black Friday each year, watch a few minutes of people swarming shelves and punching one another and then go outside feeling grateful that you’re not one of those people. The violence that has become commonplace on Black Fridays is truly disgusting, oftentimes resulting in deaths of employees or customers by trampling. If we continue on with Black Friday deals being fully online even once the pandemic is over, then we can prevent the senseless casualties that the holiday often comes with. Employees will be safer, customers will be safer and stores won’t have to deal with the liability that comes with a customer dying on the premises. Keeping Black Friday sales online makes all the more sense anyway, given the extension of sales into “Cyber Monday.” Additionally, having deals up all weekend digitally means that people will stay out of stores, hopefully compelling consumers to take advantage of deals from the comfort of their own homes when it is most convenient for them.
Fortunately for the consumer, shopping online not only means that they would be able to avoid senseless violence, but also that they’d avoid the low-quality products being promoted in place of the more expensive, real products sold during the rest of the year. It has come to light in recent years that some of the items that are sold on Black Friday deals are poorly made and are not the models that consumers are actually paying for. There has not been quite as much coverage on this as there should be, as this is essentially a scam being run by big businesses by promising a normally expensive item for a lower price and then giving a knockoff item in its place. The way to solve this would be either holding these businesses accountable for their scam tactics or simply letting reasonably low prices on legitimate products last for the course of the buying season to prevent consumers from being swindled.
Lastly, it would be best if Black Friday went wholly online or faded into something completely different to help benefit the employees of the stores people shop at. Workers are often called in on Thanksgiving to prepare for late-night sales and are overworked when most other people get the day off, especially if they are low-wage workers. These individuals are just as at risk, if not more so, of being hurt because of the mobs of people who come in to shop. Considering that Black Friday is not regarded as a national holiday, and thus doesn’t qualify for holiday pay, workers are not getting paid nearly enough to be putting their lives at risk so people can get cheaper goods. In the name of the workers more than anyone else, we need to take their safety into account and abolish Black Friday as we know it.
Though it does not seem like the Christmas season without knocking out someone’s grandmother over a gaming console, we would be wise as a consumerist culture to re-evaluate how we run Black Fridays going forward. We should follow what happened this year, thanks to physical distancing guidelines, and rework the Black Friday system so that it is either taken completely online or dismantled altogether. The end result would be a much less stressful holiday season for all involved and help quell parts of the rampant greed that has plagued this country for too long.