Let’s start off this post with a little bit of dark humor. Watch this 1971 commercial for Merrill Lynch:
Yes, this post is all about the world of investment banking, stock market advice, and retirement planning. No, I’m kidding! I’ve included that commercial for the imagery it features: That of a stampede of bulls running roughshod over the landscape. That stampede is not unlike this stampede:
That is an image that can typically be found on this day after Thanksgiving — also known as Black Friday, which, at least here in the United States, is the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season. It’s a day when big retailers open their doors very, very early (some even doing so on Thanksgiving Day itself) and mark down prices in order to drive traffic into their stores, create a positive image for themselves in the media (low markdowns + dramatic images = monster ratings!), and foster excitement for the holiday shopping season that runs between now and Christmas Eve.
Now, you’re probably wondering out there, “Gee, Allison, are you going to join the crowds on Black Friday and look for big deals on a cute dress or something?” Well the simple answer to that is… no. For one thing, I have to work today (yeah, bummer). Another thing is that I don’t have the urge to go all hog wild and join the Black Friday crowds.
That’s not to say I haven’t joined in on the Black Friday stampede before. On a couple of occasions in the past, I would stop at a store or two after my work shift ended to just browse around and window shop. One Black Friday when I did have the day off from work, I went to a Best Buy down the street from my apartment just to pick up some blank CDs. However, I had to wait a good 30 minutes or so in a long, long checkout line that was a serpentine instead of a straight line: It started next to the music section, veered back into appliances, curved past the vacuum cleaners, and stopped at one single solitary spot manned by a Best Buy clerk whose sole job was to motion whomever was waiting at the front to an available checkout (“Okay! Next person, Checkout 1 is open!”).
Yeah, I’m not one for the maddening Black Friday crowds. I’m also not one to take advantage of the unfortunate trend that is stores opening on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the whole Black Friday thing. I mean, Thanksgiving has always been a day to just sit back, enjoy time with your loved ones, and inhale copious amounts of food… and not a day for the truly desperate in the retailing world to seek out a quick buck. At least there are still a few big box retailers and other national retail chains who have their bearings and stay shuttered on Thanksgiving, as these two tweets from a year ago prove:
So, if you’re taking part in all the Black Friday whoop-dee-do, good for you. If you find a great deal on something you really want or want to give as a gift inside all those bricks and mortars and indistinguishable store facades, good for you. If you’re really, really wanting to shop today just for the sake of getting your gift shopping out of the way, really good for you. If you want to make a fool of yourselves and get into a fight with another shopper over that “last” toy on the shelf, especially while the TV cameras are on you, shame on you.
But if you’re like me and just want to enjoy the day far away from the shopping stampedes, even better. Think about what you want to buy and where you want to buy it. Take advantage of the small business promotions on Saturday if you wish. Go and do that whole Cyber Monday thing if you must. Just know that there’s almost a full month of shopping awaiting all of us. So just breathe in, breathe out, and relax, okay?