Ah, Black Friday. Many people seem to anticipate it far more than Thanksgiving, and each year retail stores seem to start their sales earlier – for many stores, people can start shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Push the turkey aside, it’s time to hit Walmart! Or is it?
“Black Friday” has come to be a double-edged sword in many peoples’ minds – for those who work retail, it is likely met with dread, as it cuts into their Thanksgiving time with family and subjects them to hordes of people, some of which have become unruly and occasionally violent. In fact, store employees and shoppers have been killed on Black Friday, usually from being trampled to death, such as the Walmart worker who died when eager and frenzied shoppers knocked doors down and stampeded a Walmart on an early Black Friday morning. The most recent death is that of a Walmart employee in Long Island, New York, according to the New York Daily News. People may shake their heads at how people could so carelessly regard a human life because of a “good deal” on appliances or electronics, but the psychology behind the instances of stampedes on Black Friday is nothing new in the realm of human behavior, experts agree. Kenneth Manning, a professor of marketing at Colorado State University, in an interview with LiveScience, says there is a reason that people seem to lose their collective minds in hopes of a “good deal.”
“When they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making can be somewhat emotional.”
In fact, studies have found that deal-finding frenzies, real or perceived, cause a release of oxytocin, a chemical of bonding that causes loving and positive feelings – so it’s no wonder what when combined with the cultural norm that has become “Black Friday,” people are not collectively being their most rational selves. Even with that phenomenon, violence is fairly rare, though incivility in stores may not be. Even if you are the type that can overlook bad behavior, it’s time to “talk turkey:” your “Black Friday” savings are not that great, and they may even be a scam or more expensive than you’d normally pay, according to how retail stores promote and sell items.
According to Business Insider, there are solid economic reasons about why people should avoid “Black Friday” shopping. Those flyers that promise “door-buster” savings probably are just that – they may cause people to bust down a door (which, as referenced earlier in this article, has killed people) – but the majority off the time, they are not the lowest prices of the season, which typically peaks about nine days before Christmas. And, to make it even more unbearable that you’re waking up at four a.m. (or leaving family behind at Thanksgiving dinner), Kyle James, founder of Rather-be-shopping.com, says that most of the “deals” are on off-brand goods. The relevance of this fact is dependent on your particular needs, James says.
“The problem is the brands you’ll find on sale are typically unrecognizable. If you’re a college student and looking for a disposable TV from Best Buy for your dorm room you’ll want to head out Black Friday morning. If you’re looking for a quality TV that will hold up for the long run, you’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through Super Bowl Sunday.”
James also said that the best deals are occurring the three days before Thanksgiving, not after.
“The early bird does indeed get the worm. By ‘early bird,’ I’m not talking about being the first one through the doors on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. I’m talking about shopping on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Black Friday and scoring a deal.”
However, if you’re a person who enjoys that side of an oxytocin rush along with your turkey entrée, go bravely forward with the crowd. Keep in mind, though, according to Black Friday Death Count, seven people have died and 98 were injured in Black Friday-related accidents from 2006 to 2014. The statistics on 2015 have yet to be added. Causes of injury included stampedes, fights, and falling asleep while driving home from shopping due to lack of sleep and waiting in lines all night.
How you choose to spend the Thanksgiving holiday is, of course, up to you. I’ll be spending it in my house with a hot cup of coffee.
[Featured Image by Ian McKinnel/Getty Images]