Today, millions of people rushed to stores early this morning across the continent, hoping to score the lowest deals they could.
Black Friday, an unofficial holiday since the mid-1900s, occurs on the day after American Thanksgiving each year. In recent years, Black Friday has even been extended online to the following Monday, now dubbed Cyber Monday. Companies boast ridiculous discounts and deals, leading to the busiest shopping day of the year.
Due to these deals, Black Friday is infamous for causing a wild frenzy of stampedes and even deaths. Just a few of the many cases within the past two years include a woman being hit with a falling television, a man being stabbed at a mall, a Wal-Mart employee being trampled to death, and even the tragic case of an 11-year-old girl being killed in a stampede.
With these casualties in mind, it’s crucial that we reconsider the purpose of Black Friday. Why do companies promote mindless consumerism, especially in the U.S. where Black Friday occurs a day after Thanksgiving? Surely, we can all agree no deal is worth the sacrifice of a human life.
For this reason and several others, a few stores have taken an alternate approach to the day. One of these stores, Everlane, champions transparent pricing and rejects offshore factories. Visiting their website, customers are greeted by the blatant message: “This is not a sale.” Instead of marking down their clothing items, Everlane has promised that all of their proceeds from today will go towards creating a wellness program for their factory workers in Los Angeles, including free doctor visits, better kitchen appliances, and on-site English classes (as many of their workers have English as their second language).
Another store, REI, specializing in outdoor living, has decided to close on Black Friday, instead encouraging customers to go outside. Their CEO, in a written statement on their website, explains the reason behind this decision: “being outside makes our lives better.” A counter on their website shares the number of people who have decided to join their movement and, surprisingly, it has tallied over a million people thus far.
As well, workers at Wal-Mart have joined in the anti-Black Friday movement and are using it to advance their own message. Wal-Mart is known for being one of the most dangerous stores on Black Friday. Several of their workers have been fasting for the past two weeks to protest the low wages and poor working conditions that they face daily, and especially on Black Friday. Many others are protesting outside the store instead of working today.
While Black Friday may be the best opportunity to buy gifts for the upcoming holidays or score that perfect deal you’ve been waiting for, customers must think carefully before participating. Often, these low prices can encourage consumers to purchase more items than they actually need or even want.
If you choose to scramble to the stores today in search of the best deals, just remember to think before you buy.
Article: Kate Schneider
Photography: Luke Sarazin