The Black Friday Lure
There are two types of people that engage in Black Friday shopping: those that have waited for dramatic price drops in higher priced items, and those that believe shopping is a competitive sport. I’m of the former camp. These days, with consumer goods prices on the rise, it would be foolish for anyone to not do a little bargain hunting. Retailers aren’t exactly making it difficult, with sales events becoming de rigeur and discount sites like LivingSocial transforming the dynamic and concept of a sale. So when anyone talks about Black Friday, it is with an understanding by all parties – consumers and retailers – that the lure is out and cast, waiting for someone to bite, a lot of ‘someones’.
Thanksgiving itself has become an unfortunate casualty of Black Friday, with stores opening as early as 6pm that Thursday when people should be at home with their families remembering what’s really important in this life and being thankful for what they have. What an absolute oxymoron! Has consumerism becoming more important than family? When retailers encroach on such a long-standing tradition, has all been lost in the name of a good deal? Remember, if stores open at 6pm, that means on-site sales require you to be on line in advance of stores opening. We’re talking noon, folks. I saw an article somewhere that families are now going shopping TOGETHER… pretty much dubbing it ‘The New Thanksgiving’. Shopping… bringing people together?
Yes, our age-old Thanksgiving is officially dead. Rest in peace.
I did the ‘waiting on line’ thing one year, just to see how it was. Pandemonium didn’t do justice to the sheer ravenous and rude behavior from patrons. People tried to skip the line, pushed over each other, grabbed TVs and tablets like they’d won the lottery. Even after getting inside the store, I actually didn’t see anything I wanted and walked out empty handed. Yes, I was rather disgusted by the inconsiderate way people treated each other.
We spend our dollars on things that have no longevity and are set to self-destruct after two years. Nothing is built to last these days; if it did, consumers wouldn’t be out spending the way they do.
There’s a bigger problem with Black Friday though. It is becoming the new rite of passage into consumerism. People aren’t making nearly as much money – losing money, in truth – yet somehow the government wants us to keep spending. How in the world is this a sustainable prospect? Middle class jobs are disappearing, being replaced by lower paying and less permanent positions that are part-time. College grads can’t find work and are relegated to the part-time pool, if that.
So, how are we spending all this money? One word: debt. Regular citizens AND small businesses are now forced into positions where they must use debt to survive. Supposedly, the government wants to see a little inflation so that their out-of-control debt holdings won’t look so bad if it costs less to pay back. But that can’t happen without an increase in the average person’s wages.
Still, the 2008 crisis woke a lot of folks up to today’s reality and the manipulation being used by big banks and those in power. People are definitely more conservative than in the past. But as time passes, we forget the circumstances that lead to the crash, the rapid devaluation of homes and the loss of billions in pensions. That wealth didn’t disappear; it went into someone else’s coffers.
Here’s the bottom line: if you were holding out on replacing something out of commission for a good Black Friday deal and you can pay for it cash, then by all means, make your purchase. However, if you are going by out there just to shop because you can and you’re using credit to do so, don’t do it. Stop right there! Do you want to pay for those purchases over the next 12 months until next Black Friday? PLUS INTEREST?! Should you be saving that money instead? If you live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans, you should not do this to yourself or those you financially support.
Debt is our most pervasive form of slavery. Consumerism is the mechanism by which it is executed.
Nothing against retailers since they’re in it to gain profits like any business, but we citizens cannot continue this out of control way of living. Our elders had it right: buy what you need and save for a rainy day.
Fight the lure of this decisive event. Don’t let the new younger generation think that material things are all that matters. Having the latest and greatest does not make you any richer, stylish or sexier. It does, however, make you poorer.