There are people who are so eager to start the holiday season that they take matters into their own hands and set up their Christmas lights as soon as Halloween is over. The same can be said of shoppers lining up in the days leading up to Black Friday looking to land a good deal.
At least it was like that before.
It was a time when things were easier. The only ongoing pandemic was the line of tents outside Best Buy. Department stores across the country were bracing for chaos. Black Friday was … kind of a public holiday – a dangerous day, if it is. Even the TV series South Park laughed at the crazy vacation in 2013.
For starters, no online ads were posted a month in advance to preview Black Friday deals. Kohls, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. all sent out print ads just weeks before Black Friday. This meant that as long as you didn’t throw out the ads, everyone had a good idea of what to expect the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, Black Friday is so special to so many people that there is a dedicated Black Friday advertising website that dates back to 2006.
I remember as a teenager the excitement I felt after my Thanksgiving feast was over. I was so dizzy, knowing that I could go out to Twelve Oaks Mall after midnight. The anticipation that the mother of my friends would pick me up to go out and browse the offerings was the icing on the cake.
I was a night owl when it came to Black Friday shopping. I was out of the question for me to wake up at six in the morning. What held me back was that I wasn’t even old enough to drive, so I had to rely on my parents or my friends’ parents to get me where I needed to go.
Now, I’ve never been crazy enough to grab a tent and make Best Buy’s sidewalks my home for a few days. Most people were waiting for the highly anticipated gaming systems, which coincidently would still be released during the holiday season. The Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 were all released in November 2005 and 2006.
The emergence of social media has been a game-changer when it comes to the craziness that has arisen from Black Friday. Buyers across the country were sharing videos of people fighting in front of TVs, screaming and swearing at each other and, worse yet, people trampled by the overwhelming influx of crowds.
Suddenly, Black Friday has become dangerous. Between 2006 and 2018, according to The Hustle, 44 different Black Friday incidents left 11 dead and 109 injured. The sad part is that it didn’t stop anyone from getting a good deal. In fact, Black Friday spending levels increased year over year between 2017 and 2020 (Source: Adobe Analytics).
Fortunately, I have never had any of these nightmarish experiences. Last year, COVID gave these spooky statistics a break in action, as everyone shopped for the holiday season online, which brings me to:
COVID has turned Cyber Monday into something darn close to the past, letting everyone do their Black Friday shopping online. When you combine that, with the global supply chain shortage, what Black Friday might look like this year is a conundrum.
All of the department stores have had their Black Friday bestsellers in the past three weeks, completely eliminating the need to wait until the day after Thanksgiving. While Black Friday shopping has always been a competition for some, many of the top retailers have given shoppers the edge, but at a cost. The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X have been in stock and out of stock for over a year, and Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy have held restocking events for the systems.
The catch is, you can only access these replenishment events if you are a paid member of their subscription services. So if you don’t have Amazon Prime, Walmart Plus, or Best Buy’s “totaltech”, you won’t be able to try and get your hands on those systems. Walmart took it a step further by allowing its Plus members to access their Black Friday sales four hours before the general public. Grinch move, if you want my opinion.
This year, most retail stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but will be back up and running at various times on Black Friday. More stores will open around 5 a.m., so you’ll have to worry about getting up early instead of staying up late to do your Black Friday shopping.
I would do anything to drive around town to witness the Black Friday madness again, but something tells me it might never look like it used to be.
It’s hard to stay socially distanced when you’re fighting someone over an air fryer.
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