The Dark Side of Black Friday



50 percent off. Oftentimes, stores such as Macy’s hype up their Black Friday sales in order to gain maximum profits. However, sometimes getting half off a product means losing all of a customer’s integrity and kindness. Image used via Flickr under Creative Commons.

Naisha Roy, Copy Editor

The line stretches around the block, groups of people elongating it with every passing second. Shoppers anxiously wait, bundled up in heavy coats and scarves, frosty air making a cloud with every breath. As the doors open, hundreds more exit their cars, pushing and shoving to get inside. Inside the store, stacks of products gleam on tables extravagantly decorated with red, gold, and green. Christmas music echoes, but is barely heard as throngs of people rush across the tile, grabbing at the boxes. Even more crowd around the escalator, trying to get upstairs where even better deals wait. Soon the decorations, torn and crumpled, lie on the floor, and the stacks of products are gone, picked clean by the rush of shoppers.

Black Friday 2019 was one of the biggest events this year, with unprecedented deals both online and in-store. Amazon dropped the price of a Macbook pro by 300 dollars, almost immediately selling out. Stores like Walmart, Kohls, and Target sent out their booklets weeks in advance to hype up shoppers for the big day. Every blog and shopping site was full of neon yellow, red, and black banners advertising their sales.

However, Black Friday also brought out the worst in some people; stores all across America have captured brawls, arguments, and full-out fights. I even witnessed a mother abandon her child in front of a crowded escalator to get perfumes–and he started tearing up. People were tackling each other to get the last box of goods, while others were grabbing as much as they could, regardless of whether they needed it or not. I was sitting on a chair, and a man thought it was okay to push me out of the way in order to grab a box–without even apologizing. CNET news made a compilation of several brawls that occurred this Black Friday, and the violence is shocking. Most people, like me, now prefer to do their Black Friday shopping online–but many consumers still like to see the product and purchase it, or shop in-store to avoid delivery charges. Nevertheless, the crowds in stores were full as ever and aggression ran high.

Ironically, for a holiday so closely tied to Thanksgiving, Black Friday can sometimes show just how ungrateful people can truly be. Some stores even experienced a gun scare as people yelled words such as “shooter” and “gun” in the background, hyping up the crowd. I don’t think Black Friday is all bad; the tension and chaos this holiday brings can be fun, and no doubt, the deals are great. Stores slash prices almost 90%, with even more incentives such as a free gift and additional discount if customers spend a certain amount of money. But people can go too far in order to save a few dollars. Pushing kids, yelling profanity, and snatching items out of another customer’s hands are too far–and physically throwing punches takes it to another level altogether. While the holiday is a great way to get inexpensive Christmas presents, one shove too far can turn a shopper from a caring family member to Scrooge in a matter of seconds.

Black Friday can also promote mass consumerism on a magnified scale. It’s almost depressing to watch shoppers stand in line for three hours and purchase a mountain of items, only to not use them later. The Emory Wheel states, “At the heart of Black Friday shopping is a desperate need to justify oneself by purchasing products before and at a lower price than others or fulfilling an empty sense of adventure,” and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s nearly impossible to enter a store on Black Friday and just purchase one item. And half the time, we don’t need those extra items–we buy them not because of the product, but because of the price. And stores know this. It’s why they give you 10 dollars off a 50 dollar purchase, so shoppers can take their $32.99 total and add small items to reach $50. In the customer’s eyes, it’s a great deal–but in the long run, they still spent more money. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is how much the holiday encourages those malicious behaviors. Stores make more money when shoppers come in-store and grab more items than intended. They’re even willing to lose money in order to get shoppers to do just that. And finally, Black Friday is right before the end of the break. Everyone wants to go back to work and school with new clothes and accessories, but honestly, this pointless competition to own the most stuff is just that–pointless. In the long run, people end up spending way more money then they need to, and hurt other people in the process. Black Friday is a holiday and should be treated as such–if getting a new microwave turns into a life-or-death scenario, it’s best to hold off another year.