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  • November 2011
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Black Friday.

Happy Black Friday!

Today, millions of Americans will work off their turkey (or tofurky) hangovers with some credit card cardio. Black Friday is the day that signifies the kick off of the holiday shopping season. Since the holiday season is when retailers generally turn the biggest profits, the term “black” refers to when balance sheets go from the red (negative) to the black (positive). I also just read that the current usage of the term “Black Friday” started in Philadelphia in the 1960s in reference to the traffic congestion that would plague Center City when shoppers would flock to the city’s department stores!

In recent years, Black Friday has become not only the busiest shopping day of the year but an outright cultural phenomena. Stories of people camping out for rock bottom prices, scams, violence, traffic, greed, and violations of worker rights have all become staples of this holiday of conspicuous consumption.

So it is no surprise that push back against Black Friday has started to take shape from people of all walks of life. For years, some Christian groups have argued that the emphasis on consumption devalues the Christmas holiday. This year, there are a variety of campaigns focusing on the lack of ethics of big box retailers and shoppers. Change.org has had multiple petitions calling for retailers to stop pushing back store openings to Thanksgiving evening because they interfere with worker’s family celebrations. Surprisingly, resistance is nothing new. Buy Nothing Day is now in its 20th year as a movement to avoid shopping immediately after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday has even inspired smaller, often local businesses to try to get in on the action. Small Business Saturday urges people to buy goods and services from small business like hair salons, boutiques, and restaurants in your community instead of from multi-national corporations. The term Cyber Monday was invented to describe the Monday after Thanksgiving when online retailers see the first bump in holiday ordering.

What do you think about Black Friday drama?

One Response

  1. […] to Michael for the post about the history of Black Friday, and the movements that oppose it.  I, myself, practice Buy […]

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