Muller: Keep Black Friday on Friday

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Muller: Keep Black Friday on Friday

Yoni Muller, Columnist

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Every year, as Thanksgiving approaches, people look forward to two things – neither of which are Thanksgiving. The holiday has been robbed by Christmas and Black Friday. Admittedly, Thanksgiving partially deserves this (how can I be thankful when I have no presents to be thankful for?), but it’s a tragedy nonetheless. One of the most meaningful and truly American holidays gets eclipsed every year by iPods being sold for $20 off, and it’s a sad truth that we have to learn to accept.

This year, however, these shenanigans have stretched too far. In an attempt to capitalize on one of the most lucrative retail days of the year, stores are starting their sales earlier than ever. Walmart, perhaps in an attempt to get more people pepper-sprayed, has decided to start its sales as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day; Target, staying well above the fray, will wait until 9 p.m. to open its doors. Many others, such as Sears and Kohl’s, are already offering pre-sales to their loyalty customers (get your discounted windshield wipers before they’re all gone!).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Black Friday. From the camping out, to the promise of great deals, to getting in, finding all the good things are gone and being extremely disappointed and exhausted, Black Friday is shockingly fun. However, there is a time and a place for everything, and Black Friday should remain in the spot on the calendar marked “Friday” and stay out of my Thanksgiving.

Realistically, people who want to benefit from the best discounts at these big-box stores should get there an hour early at least. Assuming everyone lives incredibly close to a Walmart, that means Thanksgiving is over by 7 p.m. Unless your 401(k) and Social Security checks are being used to pay for your retirement condo in Boca, you probably don’t even start eating then, let alone finish.

Obviously there are plenty of people out there who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving – even some people living in the United States! “Black Thursday Evening” doesn’t affect them all too much, to be fair. But to the millions that do, this year’s schedule seems remarkably problematic. Thanksgiving for millions of Americans consists of football, some kind of turkey consumption, and trying to calm down your out-of-town relative who always gets inappropriately drunk during the holidays. For me, and for many others I know, Thanksgiving festivities extend until at least 10 p.m., if not later. Compromising Thanksgiving for retail sales is unfair to my family and millions of others and also unfair to Thanksgiving itself, one of our most important holidays.

There are practical matters to debate and discuss, but before we weigh the objective pros and cons, let’s do a quick thought experiment. Imagine Canada started Boxing Day deals on Christmas evening. How smoothly would that go? If you imagined backlash and pandemonium, continue reading. If not, put this down and go talk to an actual person for what I can only assume would be the first time in your life.

“More shopping helps the economy!” “If you don’t like it then don’t shop!” and “You’re probably a filthy communist!” are probably what at least some of you are thinking right now, and I’d like to address those concerns. First off, I don’t have to shop, but employees have to work, and there’s a decent chance they celebrate Thanksgiving. Also, I’m not a communist; you’ll just kind of have to trust me on that one. But let’s talk about the economy.

It’s important to remember that Thanksgiving is one of the biggest media days for the NFL, and with teams from four of the ten biggest media markets playing during times that overlap with store openings, football ratings surely won’t live up to their full potential. So, while Target may stand to make a few million dollars extra, it will come at the expense of TV networks who were relying on increased ad revenues that won’t materialize.

Also, the whole point of opening earlier is to get to more customers and increase sales. That leaves you thinking, why don’t they just market Black Friday as a two-day event ending Saturday? It would have the exact same impact and leave Thanksgiving in peace.

So, as the holidays approach, remember that there’s no wrong way to celebrate (except for with pepper-spray). Whether you choose to shop later, have more of a Thanksgiving afternoon, or skip one or both holidays altogether, as long as you’re happy, I’m happy. However, people should have the opportunity to take part in two annual events, events that have been at different times forever, without having to now change their holiday traditions.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at jonathanmuller2015@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to forum@dailynorthwestern.com.

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