Black Friday: Dream Or Nightmare?

Friday is expected to be the start of the holiday shopping season.  People will line up in the wee hours of the morning to try to score the best deals on electronics, toys, and everything else consumers can get their hands on.  It’s essentially the biggest shopping day of the year for bargain hunters and retail chains.

And it gets ugly.

Last year, there were numerous accounts of Black Friday brutality including the story of a woman who pepper sprayed her fellow bargain-hunters, determined to get her paws on an Xbox.  Or there was the story of the man who collapsed at a major discount store and later died in the hospital from a prior heart condition.  Witnesses were said to have ignored him on the ground and continued with their shopping.

Having worked in retail on the dreaded Black Friday, I have seen what people become and it isn’t pretty.

My mandatory 12-hour shift was met with angry customers who missed out on limited quantities, a completely destroyed store, and exhausted co-workers who were more than ready to head home when their shifts ended.  After walking away from a largely discounted flat screen (one of only three we had in the store), a patron demanded that the head manager give him the television at the same price when it was back in stock after Black Friday.  The manager apologized for his loss, but told the man that the deal was only available that day and the store would not be issuing rain checks for any of the items on sale.  The guest was pissed, yelled that he would never shop at the store again—an empty threat I heard frequently in my five months there—and continued on with his shopping.  Did I mention this all happened in the first hour of the store opening?

The deals are great, but are they really worth forgoing the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving night to stand in line with strangers and wait for a store to open?  I don’t think so.  However, I will be doing some Black Friday shopping.

In. My. Pajamas.

That’s right Wonderlings, I’m bargain shopping from home and the awesome news is that most retailers are catching on that some people would rather endure the turkey comas on their couches than fight with the crowds of cranky shoppers.  I know I would.

More and more retailers like Target, Bath and Body Works, Sephora, and Kohl’s are giving holiday shoppers the same bargains on their websites.  Amazon has been rolling out daily deals since yesterday and Kohl’s is offering Early Bird specials starting tomorrow.

As someone who won’t be around for much of December (more on that in a future post), I am thrilled that I can get the majority of my shopping done this week.  Sure, there will be some odds and ends to pick up in the coming weeks, but for the most part, the online Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales make it possible to skip the lines of people, the schlepping of bags, and still save.  What could be better?

Now, the best shoppers know which stores offer the best deals and one of the best websites to take the guess work out of the day is  It has practically every advertisement and coupon code you may need to get the most bang for your buck.  As my sister has always told me, “the key to shopping on Black Friday is to have a plan.”

My sister is a shopping phenomenon and loves Black Friday.  After scouring all the leaflets, she goes into the annual shopping trip with a game plan.  She knows exactly what she’s looking for and how big of a discount she’s really getting.  She should have been a professional shopper; she’s just that good.  Unfortunately, she is very disappointed to have to skip out on her 4am spending with her like-minded neighbor because she is due with her second son in six days.  Darn babies ruining all the fun. (Note: As this post was written, my nephew was born!  Looks like my sister will get to shop after all.  My brother-in-law has assured me she’s already pumped.)

So you see, Black Friday is a brutal day, but there is some good in it too.  It can be a holiday treat to get you into the mood for the Christmas season or a brutal reminder that people will go to extreme lengths for a discount.

At the end of the day, it is what you make it.

11 thoughts on “Black Friday: Dream Or Nightmare?

  1. Human In Recovery says:

    Nightmare! Physical and mental health issues mean I avoid shopping as much as possible anyway. I absoposilutely, unequivocally, and unapologetically refuse to set foot in a store during peak hunting season, aka Black Friday.

  2. L says:

    In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in mid October, yet due to economic reasons (and our proximity to the USA) Canadian retailers are now offering Black Friday sales to prevent shoppers from leaving Canada and spending our money in American stores. I can’t even handle Boxing Day shopping… I’ll definitely be avoiding the shops on Friday.

    • Jessica says:

      Ugly American ways are invading Canada… How sad! 😉 Hopefully the retailers also offer all the great deals online so you can still save a penny from the comfort of your home.

  3. Truth and Cake says:

    I think it’s terrible that stores are now opening on Thursday night. The poor employees have to eat Thanksgiving dinner and then hightail it back to work! We are becoming (who am I kidding, we already are) a culture that worships consumerism. I love a deal as much as the next gal but there’s just no way I’m going to go through that kind of stress for some discounted electronics. P.S. I hope that “gone for most of December” comment means what I think it means! 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Terrible indeed! I love how Target issued a statement saying that they were only doing it because consumers requested it and that they asked employees to volunteer for the Turkey Day shifts. As a former manager, I know that stores would require at the very least two managers on duty during opening hours and, since managers are salaried employees, they would not get the overtime that other workers receive for being pulled away from their families on a holiday. It’s so sad that people 1) need to work on Thanksgiving for the extra hours and 2) need to shop these super sales in order to financially make it through the holidays.

      And yes, that comment meant exactly what you think it did. 😉 More on that next week…

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