Black Friday is good for the economy
I was sitting in class Monday morning, and the first question we marketing students know the professor will ask is, “so what did you notice this year about Black Friday?” It’s the job of every marketer to study their surroundings and question why consumers, or even the companies, do what they do this one day of the year and in the following weeks. We know the question is coming from all of our professors, and it’s our job as marketing students to have an answer.
My answer was this — I didn’t wake up at an ungodly hour to shop for things I don’t need or to catch a deal that may not be worth long waiting lines or elbows in the face by people trying to snatch the last of the amazing deal. Instead, I took my time waking up, as if it was a normal day. Then I left in the early afternoon with a group of friends to visit the largest Christmas store in the area — Bronner’s — and we enjoyed window shopping and impulse spending in downtown Frankenmuth.
CNN reported a record-breaking 247 million shoppers both online and in the stores on Black Friday, an increase of nine percent from last year. Even the spending increased by 13 percent, landing at $59.1 billion for the entire four-day weekend, another record. What has become of our Christmas holiday season? Has it always been this crazy?
Maybe I’m just alone in this when I say it’s not the shopping I love most about this time of year, but the music, different colored lights and decorations, bringing me back to when the holidays were simple. Then again, back then, I was a kid who never bought presents for anyone or made plans for holiday gatherings. There wasn’t even a big exam to prepare for. There was no stress as a 4-year-old.
What piques my curiosity even more is shopping on Thanksgiving. CNN reported nearly 10 percent of the weekend’s shoppers were at the stores on Thursday night at 8 p.m., and 28 percent were out four hours later. Isn’t Thanksgiving supposed to be a relaxing holiday shared with family, or does it no longer hold that purpose?
Despite how I feel about the chaotic shopping experience, I know people who take part in it, and the growth in Black Friday shoppers is more of a blessing in disguise than a headache. The high traffic, which reports say hasn’t been this high since 2006, indicates a pulse of life in the economy and real signs of recovery for our nation. If 65 to 80 percent of shoppers reflect the overall economy when it comes to holiday spending, then I say don’t stop. But what I do say is take a breather. It’s not even December yet!
I have a few friends who say they went out in the late hours to steal a good deal or two, and I don’t judge them for doing so. It’s just not how I view Christmas. Sure, there are presents involved, but the best present comes from the thought you put behind it, not the deal you scored four weeks before.
But these next few weeks, we’ll all be busy with final exams on the horizon. Just don’t forget about holidays and spending time with others. We only have a few more weeks, and by now, I’m sure we can handle the simultaneous holiday with the week of exams to prepare for. We’re in the home stretch of fall semester 2012.
Megan Gross is a senior majoring in marketing and minoring in communications.
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