Nov 19, 2012

Democracy and Capitalism: Inappropriate Shopping Edition

I love holiday shopping and all that it entails. I really enjoy coming up with a great gift and then getting a good deal on it. I am not a 4AM Black Friday shopper, but I do enjoy the hustle and bustle of the day. Casey and I normally wake up and head to breakfast on Black Friday and will hit a few shops afterwards. We miss the lines and crazy product fighting, but we still get some great deals. While we love to find deals, we are very fortunate that we can afford to spend an extra $100 instead of staying up all night in line to get the doorbuster sale.
That said, I am so disappointed by the number of retailers choosing "Black Thursday" instead of Black Friday this year. It is taking all of the fun and holiday spirit out of the weekend. I felt disappointed last year by the number of retailers who chose to open on Thanksgiving Day and at midnight instead of waiting until Black Friday. Last year Casey and I drove by our local Best Buy around 8:00 on Thanksgiving Day on our way home from enjoying a wonderful day with our families and couldn't believe the hundreds of people already in line for the midnight opening! Those people all had to give up time with their families to do that! and the employees had to be there even earlier. This year, retailers like WalMart, ToysRUs, and Target are all opening the evening of Thanksgiving Day, meaning employees and consumers will miss spending the holiday with family.
Photo from google (click for source)
This is going to disproportionately effect lower income families. They are more likely to be the hourly employees forced to leave their family holiday celebration to work. Even though many will "choose" to work that day to get the holiday pay, for a struggling family during the holiday season this "choice" is not really one.
Our country is both democratic and capitalistic and nowhere is the tension between these ideals as obvious as Thanksgiving.
In a democracy, all people should be equal, but we know they are not. A lower income family is much more likely to miss Thanksgiving to get the new $200 TV (advertised at both Target and WalMart) than a higher income family. This is because that dealbuster television might be all they can afford. A lower income family is more likely to agree to work on Thanksgiving to get the holiday pay. I'm not referring to the truly poor here. I'm referring to lower middle class and middle class families.
Under a capitalist system, supply and demand rule. We are a nation of consumers who line up at doors to get good holiday deals. The stores offer the opportunity to shop and people do it. Workers are willing to supply hourly labor at holiday pay and retailers are eager to offer this new shopping experience.
Democracy says we are all equal. Capitalism thrives on competition and being on top. Retailers are willing to exploit the lack of equality (classism) to get the consumer's dollar.
So here is my plea: before you head out shopping on Thanksgiving Day or face the crowds at 5AM on Black Friday, do some research. Last year, Consumer Reports reported that despite all of the hype of Black Friday, it wasn’t the best time to get the lowest prices, in general. Many of the the Black Friday deals and door busters can be found cheaper online on Cyber Monday or on continuing sales at the retailers during the holiday season! In fact, Amazon prices are frequently better than Black Friday deals. The competition to get your holiday spending is intense and retailers are eager for your holiday dollars. There will be other sales and other price breaks. So enjoy your family and have a second slice of pie on Thanksgiving Day!
Shop Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) instead of Black Thursday!


  1. I think Black Friday should not start until the early morning of Friday. Everyone needs a break from work and our country should be promoting family time. Unfortunately, a lot of people taken in by the ads and crazy hours are not smart enough to do the research you have. Corporations know this and use it to their advantage. Last year I was unimpressed with the quality of products I saw on special at Penney's. I remember the towels were not ones they normally carried and were pathedic. The electronics a lot of times are also poorly made and of lower standards. The saying is true"You get what you pay for". People should shop smarter not cheaper.

  2. Yes! This is a great post. Also better than waiting for Cyber Monday, participate in Small Business Saturday. :)