When Abraham Lincoln attempted to select a nationally agreed upon date for the Thanksgiving holiday, he intended it to be a gesture toward unity in a country that had been badly divided. The ritual late-November feast offers indulgence of the highest order, and naps that can last for days on end. If any holiday offers America a chance to reconcile after this most divisive of elections, it’s Thanksgiving. But America has also embraced another, darker tradition around this time of year, one that sends us out of our homes at unholy hours of the morning, into barbarous mobs willing to shove, trample, pepper spray, and occasionally even stab you in order to get a decent price on an Xbox. We ought to do away with Black Friday and relegate it to a sad chapter in our history books. Here are five reasons why:
1. You aren’t getting the best deal you could.
The reason that we engage in this tradition is ostensibly all about economics, but if you take a look beyond the smoke and mirrors, there’s really not much to be gained by braving the crowds on this day of ritualistic sacrifice to our capitalist idols. Stores create massive interest in Black Friday sales by significantly slashing prices a few marquee items, like TVs. By advertising savings on a limited number of pricy pieces of merchandise, a store can trick shoppers into seeing the rest of its offerings that day through rose-colored glasses. Even though, as Cnet and many other sources have pointed out, the majority of these deals are pretty average, and they are often available online or after Black Friday. The best deals are usually either in comically short supply, or for off-brand, low-rated items, so why go in the first place?
2. You could be getting the same deals from the comfort of your own home
Cyber Monday offers the same competitive-shopping-as-sport thrill that Black Friday does, just without having to wake up at 3 AM, drive to the mall in your freezing car, look for parking, wait in line, and hope you don’t suffer bodily harm while shopping. If that 50% deal on a new TV is just too good to pass up, do a bit of research on what kinds of Cyber Monday (or Black Friday online) offers you can get before you commit to camping out in line. The deals on Cyber Monday are often comparable to the in-store offerings, but you can get them without having to endure collective suffering.
3. Black Friday is terrible for the store’s employees
Each year Black Friday has pushed its start time earlier and earlier, to the point where you actually need to go out immediately after Thanksgiving Dinner in order to get the maximum savings at certain stores. And this means that store employees have to come in even earlier, often missing the holiday altogether. More cynical retailers like Target take advantage of the financial needs of their employees by offering time-and-a-half pay to work this most grueling of holiday shifts. Meanwhile Walmart has seen historic protests led by its own employees on recent Black Fridays, hoping to pressure the multi-billion dollar company into providing fair pay for its workers. Shops like REI have pushed back against this trend, opting to give their employees Thanksgiving Day off.
4. You might get stabbed
I feel like I shouldn’t have to elaborate on this one, but here goes. Shoppers and employees alike put themselves in harm’s way by showing up to a big-box retail store on Black Friday. People are fucking crazy, and every year we read about at least one pepper-spraying or stabbing that resulted from a Black Friday dispute. There are real psychological effects associated with discounted retail shopping and being in huge groups of people, and when combined with the presence of sleep-deprived knife-havers, it’s a tiny miracle that more of us aren’t getting stabbed.
5. You could be eating a Thanksgiving sandwich and watching reruns of The Simpsons all day
The day after Thanksgiving is indeed worthy of its own holiday. Many of us have the day free of obligations, and with unrestricted access to a fridge full of leftovers, we’re mere seconds away from the joy of a Thanksgiving sandwich (or just regular ‘ol leftovers if you don’t want to overcomplicate things). I propose that the third Friday of November heretofore be renamed National Thanksgiving Sandwich Day, and that instead of going out to Bad retail stores in search of mediocre savings, we all sleep in, heat up some leftovers, and fall back asleep somewhere around three episodes in to whatever TV series you like to binge watch over the holidays. Bon appétit, America.