Beyond the sometimes odd and very troubling origins of the term, “Black Friday,” the commercial history of this day is an offensive assault on the American economy and individual shoppers, financially, physically – and mentally. While the responsibility for the abuse of consumers lies partly with shoppers themselves, media and Hollywood have worked closely with the retail industry to inflict a mental state so horrendous that it has resulted in riots, theft, and even death.
Of course, the origin of Black Friday as a popular shopping day has been around since the 1930’s, when the end of Thanksgiving brought forth the first ‘official’ day of the Christmas shopping season – thanks to store propaganda. And, while Black Friday has only been the highest shopped day on and off throughout history, the real reasons for its popularity has mainly been a combination of shoppers having free time off work during the week and … DISCOUNTS!
One of the best shows on television today, “Adam Ruins Everything,” with Adam Conover, has dealt with the many problems of a 40 hour work week … one of the most basic being that of “shopping time.” After all, what good does it do to keep the entire populous working full time and limit their time off (the time they need to relax and wind down), and keep them from actually being able to spend the money on the goods they help produce? Black Friday is a great solution – and while there is apparently no official link between Thanksgiving being on a Thursday and the convenience of getting Friday off – it sure is convenient!
Everybody wants to save money. So, following the tradition of retail stores and price hikes during Holiday shopping (which included stocking excess inventory), historically, Black Friday truly marked the first great day of sales (because stores needed to unload the inventory that wasn’t purchased to make way for Christmas!!). It’s not uncommon for products to be marked up and down to encourage sales. In school, this is taught as the “Law of Supply and Demand,” (Which is more of a mental state/rule of thumb … than a law). To put it in perspective, let’s look at a 2-litre of Pepsi and its pricing over the last 3 years (which is not a Black Friday type of sale item and will better illustrate the point of price ‘scheming’):
From 2013 to 2015, Pepsi 2-litres have been generically priced around the $1.59 range (depending on region and retailer). During every Fourth of July over the same, 3 years, stores ordered excessive quantities of soda and oddly, the price went down to $0.89 cents (national averages). On the other hand, this Thanksgiving, there were many large, chain-retail stores with Pepsi 2-litres priced as high as $2.19. So, what is the price of Pepsi? Why do consumers have to pay $0.89 cents vs. $2.19? The answer is deceptive. Product manufacturers will say that the pricing scheme balances itself out – but this is not true. Large, retail chains work closely with the manufacturers of these products to adjust purchase prices seasonally, but only within the range of a few pennies (the bottom line is: $0.89 cent 2-litres are still HIGHLY profitable for them).
The soda, like most other products, has already been manufactured, bottled, and shipped to a warehouse where it is rotated (hopefully), and then shipped out to the various stores based on contractual agreements of quantity during various seasons. The stores then hike the prices according to not only the price hikes they get, but according to their bottom line. In other words, it could be $0.89 cents all year long – but because you don’t get to haggle, argue over, or control those prices – the stores can do whatever they want.
This brings us back to Black Friday. Originally, sales after Thanksgiving really were designed to get rid of inventory before Christmas. But, it didn’t take long for the retail industry to catch on to the rapidly, developing trend: people saving money and shopping during sales! Yep – you, the consumers, were saving your money and holding off buying clothes, seasonal products, electronics, and other items until they went on sale. Rather than have to wait for a random sale to appear in the local newspaper, now you had a set day when those sales would happen. You were trying to be smart!!
This made the stores very … very … VERY unhappy. It was time for a change! So … the practice of price hikes applied to a new season – Black Friday. In essence, the weekend after Thanksgiving became its own holiday – for retailers. Careful not to be caught in a “lie,” the term ‘regular retail price,’ conveniently became a truth – even after a price hike. How? Thanks to Black Friday conveniently falling at the tail end of a Holiday – the pre-seasonal ‘holiday’ price hike came in small increments until, by the day of Thanksgiving (or just before), the prices had been raised from their previous ‘regular’ amount to a new high. So – when that item went on sale…
Let’s look at a couple of factual examples that happened in 2015:
The popular, Blue Yeti microphone was selling at Best Buy, in February of 2015, for the “Regular” in-store price of $99.99. During this Black Friday, the Blue Yeti is available for $99.99, supposedly marked down from its “Regular” price of $139.99 (of course – these numbers will be different nationally as product price manipulation is not only seasonal, but regional – so please bear with me as these are just generic examples). And, of course, any video gamer interested in the latest and greatest system will not find a single X-Box One or PS4 lower than $299.99, marked down from the supposedly ‘regular’ price of $349.99.
But, don’t you think it’s a little odd that EVERY store has the same pricing structure for those two video game systems? Doesn’t that sort-of rule out the idea of competition?
The answer is: YES, it does. Let’s put the cheapest of these game systems into perspective:
They are being sold for $299.99, with a “downloadable” video game that sells for $60.00 (although it might only be $30.00 on Black Friday if you’re smart enough to recognize that distinction). That means the price of the console itself should only be $239.99, right? So … where is the $239.99 system (now – or previously – or in the future)? And … does the $349.99 apply to only the console … or the packaged deal? Starting to see a little manipulation going on here?
If not – don’t worry – it’s because you’ve been programmed not to.
You see, Black Friday sales didn’t get to become popular solely by the grace and kindness of retailers dropping their prices (hahaha … no, really, that was supposed to be funny). Black Friday became popular through advertising and marketing. Peer pressure – the threat that you’ll only have this opportunity for ONE day (which happens to be the one day you may be lucky enough to get off right after Thanksgiving), and the promise that prices will be lower (having failed to inform you that they were first raised) – is what pushes people into shopping on Black Friday. Look at the ads included in this article … Google “Black Friday One Day Only” and look at the images for yourself, it’s not subliminal or hidden – it’s blatant!
Think that marketing hasn’t impacted you and others around you? Nationally – there are 7 “reported” deaths and around 100 injuries from people fighting to get in the doors and get those bargains. Just because you didn’t go – doesn’t mean that you didn’t want to (not discounting that you’re smart and want to save money – but because retailers, manufacturers, and corporations have manipulated you). In fact, the manipulation of the masses is so horrific, that several states ordered stores to make changes to their Black Friday policy just to protect the public.
Now we have “Cyber Monday”, and “early” specials during Thanksgiving and the whole weekend following. Think that wasn’t a manipulation? Workers around the country were ready to walk out of the big chain stores in protest of the way they were being treated for that day. Several states banned those stores from opening on Thanksgiving. And, if that wasn’t bad enough – it didn’t help the Black Friday rush at all. Why?
Suddenly – not “everything” was marked down. Some of you may actually remember advertising for Black Friday as early as 10 years ago – “Everything half off.” Yes … everything. Now – it’s select deals. Why does that matter? Because: If you don’t go on Friday – you WON’T get the deals! (That’s the lie they are shoving down your throat). There’s a reason that major retailers not only join together on how they manage Black Friday, but why they employ psychologists to mastermind ways to manipulate your way of thinking.
After all … it’s Friday. You’re going back to work on Monday. Maybe you have to travel … no time to shop then! Maybe you want to take a break after the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and have a small window of time to yourself just before work. That means today is it; the only day to save. Sure … you can go online and shop. But, guess what – most everything is “sold out.” I took the opportunity to expand my research this year and sure enough … several of the online items were either “sold out” BEFORE the site was even updated for Black Friday … or were never even available to purchase at all (something you can identify by 1: checking the ads constantly, and 2: looking through the source code). This all goes back to the fundamental point – you’re being lied to, manipulated, and if you aren’t careful – controlled and cheated. The manipulation goes so far as to play on your fears and instill anger, hatred, and greed – that you may not even have had previously:
Yes, there are some good sales during Black Friday … sort of. Movies are really cheap. Of course, this is why I included the Pepsi example from before – movies NEVER have to be as high priced as they are. What you’re purchasing is overstock and bulk that is typically marked up so high that … well … somebody at the top is spending their Black Friday hugging their billion dollar bank accounts, and others are shoving their way through the stores to save a few dollars (and really, $1.75 to $9.99 is one HECK of a HUGE mark-up!!!). On the other hand, the laptop with an Intel I3 core processor for only $299.99 seems like a real steal! And … it is – but not for you. It’s a low-end processor with cruddy specs that’s designed to be used to force people who can’t afford $899.99 for its high-end counterpart. In reality – there’s little to no difference in the cost to manufacture either one (since … most likely … the brand name on that product is just a stamp on a generic toy). Hey – even that 64 Gigabyte flash drive that’s only $9.99 right now – is only $6 plus $1 shipping for the generic brand (no stamp on it yet) if you buy it from the Geek App – and that’s ALL YEAR LONG!
Does this mean you should give up on Black Friday? YES! Duh??!! The best sales you’ll find in stores and on-line happen to be those ‘surprise’ sales that they periodically run just to flush out inventory, or by being a sensible shopper and looking around. Listen – everyone who has to work for a living, not getting government, high-end wages, and struggling to survive know EXACTLY how precious free time is and how you DON’T want to miss out on an opportunity … like saving money or even getting the day off to shop! But – Black Friday isn’t it.
The television tells you it is. Marketing tells you it is. People who want your money – and who don’t want to give up theirs – tell you it is. While you may find a few, good sales – the onus is on you to be good to YOURSELF! People are so caught up in the mess of Black Friday that they’re rude, pushy, greedy, and selfish (which really makes the name of this day VERY appropriate … because it brings out the DARKEST in human behavior). But – that’s not you. That’s not what you want to be. So – what would happen if we all just stopped shopping on Black Friday?
Would the sales go away? Would the stores punish us?
If the population continued being sheep and allowing themselves to be pushed around – yes. But, if the stores suddenly learn that the people are refusing to be jerked around – and they are withholding their money – the stores wouldn’t really have a choice (remember … their corporate officers are the greediest of all – and they WON’T give up their money). So … try it out. Don’t shop. Don’t buy. Spread the word and stop everyone. What can you do with that extra time? ENJOY THE DAY OFF! And … if you have a little, extra time, write into the stores and tell them: “When they want to offer you the REAL low price (not cost, because nobody can survive without a little profit), and treat you with some respect – then you’ll buy again.”
No – this is not a popular subject (especially for folks who prefer to remain ignorant) and frankly, stores and media don’t like seeing these things published. But, cost trends and historical data is just that – facts – the rest… opinions. What you draw from that – is up to you. The stores – who manipulate people with peer pressure and keep pushing people to spend until the economy is strained and suddenly shopping drops off – would learn that people will buy when the price is low – without manipulating them – and then will buy more with the extra money they save! The choice is yours…
A Friday to enjoy friends and family .. and maybe save a LOT of money for real …
Or sheep to be controlled and herded into a single day of shopping, using your fears against you and then raping your wallet …
Which one sounds better?
Yeah … I thought so … Me, too.
“Vision? What do you know about my vision? My vision would turn your world upside down, tear asunder your illusions, and send the sanctuary of your own ignorance crashing down around you. Now ask yourself, Are you ready to see that vision?”