I work as a sales manager. More specifically I work as a retail sales manager and Black Friday is both a bane and boon to my existence. Almost equally as well known as the deals are the fights that break out. Previously peaceful neighbors throwing down with each other to save a $100 off of a tablet or TV. I myself witnessed a full fist fight over a rice cooker, and I live in Canada where the Black Friday craze doesn’t hit anywhere near as hard as in the USA.
Black Friday got its name from the financial terms of “being in the black” or “in the red.” It’s the point in the year when even if you’ve been in the red for most of the year the sheer volume of early Christmas shoppers post Thanksgiving will be enough to bring the average business back into the positive, or into the black. From there it became an incredibly competitive sales day second only to boxing day for the overall amount of money that changes hands.
Almost every year there are cases of fights, stabbings, shootings, tramplings, and just pure, violent mayhem that comes along with these deals. People line up well before the crack of dawn to be the first to get their hands on the hot-ticket items of the year. Black Friday has been called the best example of the worst of capitalism due to what it brings out in people all in the name of crass consumerism for deals that businesses could really do more often.
It’s not all bad though. Think of how many Christmas miracles are made possible by the massive sale. Products and commodities that may generally be outside the budgets of a person normally are within budget. How many of us would have woken up on Christmas morning to a brand new N64 or Atari 2600 (or Commodore 64 for the older readers) without it?
How many businesses might have faced the cold end of shutting down shop before the holidays without a day like Black Friday to bring business back to them? Those same business owners who in turn go shopping after adding to and continuing the cycle that marches the economy forward.
While people can indeed get over obsessed about the promotions that are on, there as those that get obsessed about damn near anything else. Black Friday is a good capitalist tradition, and one that (even as a retail worker myself) is well worth it.
You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.