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Black Friday:the height of Private Sector Development?

Nilar Chit Tun's picture

As I flip through TV channels and newspapers, all I see are massive advertisement campaigns of malls, stores and websites opening at midnight of the beloved American shopping tradition of "Black Friday" While many could see this as the sporting event of the year for the shopaholic greed machine--others are asking questions on how far commercialism in the United States is driving change in the way companies are setting precedents for business practices. 

Thanksgiving is one of the few remaining holidays in the US--Christmas and Easter being the other days where stores stay closed and many enjoy the company of family and friends. The Black Friday tradition dates back to the sixties in reference to the traffic jams which would occur the day after Thanksgiving celebrations. It also references the day that businesses go into a profitable part of the year(from being "in the red" and going "into black"). This particular unofficial holiday is stirring up discussions not only in private sector, but in labor law circles as well. Target employees started petitions on in an effort to be compensated for their overtime work during nontraditional hours. This is the same site used recently by Molly Katchpole in her effort to stop Bank of America to stop $5 monthly banking fees. Some companies having received poor media attention have balked, and promised to compensate with overtime. Other big box companies have kept quiet, which is equally worrying.

Across the pond, in Germany and France, grocery stores and malls opening during Sundays during the holidays is still seen as controversial--some think the convenience is great--others are revolted by the lack of respect for a traditional day to be at home resting with family.

The precedent this creates fascinates me. I am thrilled that I am in a country where the private sector and businesses can choose to sell what they want, to who they want, and in this case what time they want. Yet having worked many a retail hour during college behind a cash register during the season, I empathize with workers that simply want a day of away from the crazed masses.

Would love to know thoughts on this--and if you'll be in line for that $99 laptop at Best Buy...I will be exercising my right to sleep in. 


Submitted by Jeff V on
I am definitely one of those who view this as just another sporting event for the greed machine, and, sadly, it's been a marketing/advertising phenomenom for years. Each year the christmas songs and ads start earlier and earlier, and each year the push to sell more ticks up earlier and earlier. I agree that businesses are doing a good job marketing, and that this is a much needed economic boost, but it really does distort what this time is all about. It is getting to the point that we allow the holidays to be economic component that we depend on each year to drive us into the black, and makes me fear that we have become too dependent on consumerism. I will not be standing in line on Black Friday, but mainly because I hate crowds and love Amazon... No moral stand here to #OccupyBestBuy.

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