A Discounted Frenzy

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My grandmother, Betty Hutton, impatiently waiting at Nellie George during the Black Friday crowds. Photo credit: Alex Ferrell.

Most people have the day after Thanksgiving off from work, making it easier to enjoy the holiday knowing they won’t have to go into the office the next day. However, retail employees do not, by any means, fall into this category. Retailers in the 1960s realized that by marking down their prices the day after Thanksgiving, they would attract large crowds eager to purchase their products in anticipation of the holiday season. Black Friday represents the beginning of many stores’ transition from in the “red” (economic loss) to in the “black” (economic gain). In addition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has historically marked the official beginning of the Christmas season, making Black Friday a great way to save on Christmas presents. Black Friday is a time for outrageous markdowns that come hand-in-hand with a multitude of customers rushing to stores before the sun even comes up. Larger department stores typically schedule extra employees for Black Friday due to large crowds of expected customers.

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A view of the crowded Apple Store in Short Pump Mall. Photo credit: Alex Ferrell.

By beginning their Black Friday sale advertisements at the beginning of November, stores strategize the best way to pull in the most customers. However, not all stores advertise their sales in advance, or even in public. South Moon Under, for example, doesn’t tell you about their 20% discount on all items until you’re in the dressing room. 3 Sports mentions their 20% discount on running shoes at the cash register, and Lulu Lemon chooses to advertise nothing in advance and sets out four long racks of “Final Sale” leggings, skirts, and jackets that have all been drastically reduced. Although not all stores choose to participate in Black Friday markdowns, stores such as Nordstrom still manage to bring in large crowds due to the sales located in surrounding stores. Other stores, such as Free People, try to deceive customers by making announcements in small print stating “Select Styles” are all 50% off instead of “All Styles,” hoping to bring in more customers for the event.

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Black Friday crowds at Short Pump Mall. Photo credit: Alex Ferrell

This Black Friday, I went to Short Pump Mall. The never-ending congested traffic leading into the mall was, unsurprisingly, even more chaotic on Black Friday than on a typical Saturday. As soon as I finally pulled into the parking lot, I thought the trip would get easier; instead, it became even harder. My experience trying to find a spot resulted in walking across the parking lot to reserve a spot by physically standing there while I waited for my mom to pull up. Entering the mall itself wasn’t as hectic as I expected; however, once I entered a store, I was faced with a new challenge. How are you able to look around when everyone else is trying to do the same? The result embodies each person invading everyone else’s personal space, making it even harder to move from place to place. One store was so crowded, an employee asked if I wouldn’t mind trying on clothes in their restroom. I accepted the offer due to the fact that the dressing room lines were flowing into the atmosphere of the store. As I noticed Chick-Fil-A lines wrapped around the corner of the mall, and witnessed a father asleep while his daughter frolicked in the dressing room, it didn’t take long for me to realize the craziness behind such an anticipated date.

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It’s not every day you see people standing along the upper level railing at Short Pump Mall. Photo credit: Alex Ferrell

Over the years, Black Friday sales have expanded beyond the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day and Cyber Monday, the Monday immediately following Black Friday, are also becoming popular shopping days. Cyber Monday allows those to shop who prefer to avoid the physical arguments taking place inside stores. Choosing to wait until Monday to shop also eliminates waking up early to stand in long lines while waiting for the store’s grand opening. Cyber Monday is now called “Cyber Week,” and Black Friday has now become “Black November.” The November sales were mainly an online event this year, making Black Friday less of an attraction compared to years past. Deal News reveals the best ways to save money by strategizing when to purchase certain items. Studies show that Thanksgiving Day is the best time to buy TVs, Black Friday generates the most savings for smaller electronics, and Cyber Monday significantly reduces most clothing brands. Thus, Target stores tracked their most purchased items on Thanksgiving Day, and according to Forbes, either an iPad Air 2 or an iPad Mini were sold at a rate of about one per second. For the official 2015 ads and coupons on everything from Dicks Sporting Goods to Walgreens, visit http://www.theblackfriday.com.


About the author

Class of 2016