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Shoppers' Hype

Christmas shopping as the newest extreme sport.

Once upon a time, the day after Thanksgiving was just a day to recover from eating too much by walking around in department stores. We'd go shopping since we were already off work/school and there was extended family around to watch the kids.

Over the past ten years, this concept of shopping a little on your day off has gone from a slightly busy mall experience to a dangerous, crazed, extreme sport with a name: Black Friday!

Any naysayers who doubt the power of a well-planned marketing campaign just have to look around and see how potent it can be. If only we would use our powers for good instead of evil! Here is a tool of mass communication that can be used to promote something like recycling, but more often, is used simply to get our money.

We are nothing but willing pawns in the chess game of retail schemes. There is no Jesus at the mall (remember him?), but there sure is a seasonally paid Santa and some cranky elves waiting to grab your kids and point them in the direction of the Toys 'R Us.

From politics to purchasing, we seem to have refined the art making a big deal over nothing and ignoring the rest.

We all heard about Black Friday's pepper spray incident, as some shopper deemed her need for a video game console to outweigh the need of other people to be pain free. In my house, it will be the year of the LED TV fight, due to a limited supply of slashed-priced TVs and my husband's itchy Visa card. And it's all because of the made-up excitement of the “hurry, hurry, hurry” ad pitch. If I were the type of person to sue big companies, I might be tempted to sue Best Buy for emotional distress.

To add on to the frenzy, this year, stores opened at midnight “oh one” (12:01 a.m.) on Thanksgiving night, allowing the young and drunk team to overtake the old and crotchety team. This decision wowed some shoppers, but stank, big time, for employees of the stores, prompting employee petitions to “Save Thanksgiving.”

By the way, the fact that Thanksgiving is being thrown out the window by retailers is also a beef among us consumers. I've seen plenty of people cringe the day after Halloween when we are suddenly and profusely inundated with tinsel garlands, fake Christmas trees and blaring sound systems singing “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer” at us in every store while we are just there looking for a turkey baster. Some of my friends were boycotting the local drug store because of it.

Meanwhile, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times, there is no actual proof that sales figures of Black Friday indicate a higher profit to retailers or even that you are getting the best deal for Christmas shopping. Retailers wouldn't make LESS money in November and December if there were no sales, lines, trampled shoppers or disgruntled midnight workers.

And, on top of that, it turns out that you can actually get better deals nearer to Dec. 25, after which date that red sweater with the smiling reindeer on it or the latest trendy toy will be obsolete.

I certainly wonder what warm holiday memories that pepper spray lady has unleashed on her kids and what they will be thinking every time they play a video game from now on. Just the thought of it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I don't think that's what we were going for when we say "Happy Holidays."

canemetz November 30, 2011 at 04:57 PM
I also have discovered that the best deals come closer to Christmas, and without the crowds.

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