Friday, November 28, 2014

My Least Favorite Day Of The Year, Black Friday, Expands And Spreads Overseas

Really? This is supposed to be fun?  
I'm most of the way through Black Friday, far and away my least favorite day of the year.

I don't participate in the madness, of course.  Even so, the frenzy puts me in a foul mood.

The foul mood spread this year. Or at least Black Friday did.

First of all, as many of you know, a lot of stores opened on Thanksgiving, because we have to make these doorbuster sales earlier and earlier!

Let's take a quiet holiday and turn it into a frenzy. I guess a lot of people hate their families, because according to news reports, more than 40 million people shopped on Thanksgiving, I guess to escape their mean Aunt Louise sitting at the dinner table, or something.

I guess its younger people who hate sitting around a Thanksgiving table, as surveys say they, in particular, like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving.


That number of Thanksgiving shoppers took the wind out of the sails, or sales of Black Friday a little bit.

I suppose that's a good thing, because the smaller crowd meant fewer stampedes, violence and fights and such that marked past Black Fridays in the United States.

The bad news is we exported the Black Friday riots and stupidity to other countries.  Retailers, through their advertising cunning, have created the kind of Black Friday fights in Britain that we long had in the United States.

The result is that across the pond, lots of people have been getting hurt and arrested over brawls to grab big screen TVs or something.

I'm sure the Brits just love this American export to their country.

New York Magazine has an excellent summary why Black Friday is a scam, that cunning marketers have taken advantage of the way our brains are wired to screw us over.

After all, you seldom actually save money on Black Friday, but the psychology of Black Friday makes you think you are.

Here, according to New York Magazine, is what they are doing:

Doorbusters: It's the cheap big ticket item like a big screen TV that's on sale big time. But the retailers know you will also buy the fancy cables, fancy wall mount kit with a hefty installation fee and the Xbox that catches your eye across the aisle.

Fake scarcity: The store will say "limited quantity" or "maximum two per customer" on a deal to make you think they're running out, so you'd better, hurry, hurry, hurry to grab the stupid thing. Usually, though, the item is not any more scarce today than it is any other day, but the fake scarcity makes it seem like an emergency, so you irrationally buy.

Wasting money in other areas: The Black Friday items might be on sale, but think of the money you're wasting stuck in traffic, burning gas, paying for warranties, dealing with rebates, and wasting time in line at the store when you could be doing something more productive.

Stuck there, might as well. Once you get up at a ridiculously early hour and wait in line in a freezing, windy parking lot for hours, you don't give up because you've invested so much time in this mess. So you go ahead and buy, buy buy.

I suppose people say they like the event, so that's why they go to Black Friday. And I suppose they're not harming me much by going, so knock yourself out if you enjoy going to this silliness.

Still, I can't help but be irritated by at all, because it feels like so many people are being taken advantage of. Especially the retail employees who are paid a sub-poverty level pittance to deal with these surging, awful, sick crowds, and must work on Thanksgiving, too.

At least things aren't as bad as what's depicted in the Onion. At last check, 42 million people have actually not died in Black Friday sales today.

Well, at least things haven't gotten that bad yet. But give it time.

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