My mom, my sister and I have a longstanding Black Friday shopping tradition- which doesn’t include getting up at the crack of dawn with all the crazy doorbusters armed with ad circulars, shin guards and Purell. The 6 a.m. bargains may be great but we’ll still be sleeping off our turkey hangovers till at least 10 a.m., and will make our way over to the mall at the more civilized hour of 11 a.m.-ish. By then, the early morning bargain hunters will have exhausted themselves and be clearing out of the prime parking spots just in time for our Black Friday festivities.
While Hurricane Consumer wafts its way through downtown Santa Barbara, we’ll be sipping our lattes and people watching. Sure, the promise of $5 Fleeces at Old Navy and $19.99 DVD Players at Macy’s might lure us into the stores for a minute or two, but mostly we’ll be there to marvel at the frenzied shoppers and chat with old friends who have come to town for the holidays.
Black Friday-which, for those of you miraculously untouched by the incessant newspaper, television, radio and Internet ads, is the Friday after Thanksgiving and the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season-will be looking a little bruised this year, if my unscientific survey of my friends’ shopping plans is any indication.
When I asked if they planned to head for the stores or head for the hills this Friday, an overwhelming majority said they’d avoid the shops like the plague. “There is no way that anyone is dragging me into the throngs of crazed shoppers,” said Tammy. Angie said her family has strict rules not to leave the house the day after Thanksgiving. “Stay home and enjoy your family, not the malls…. they are there all year round,” she advised.
While some just hate the crowds, others have a more philosophical objection to shopping on Black Friday. “I can’t think of a better way to wipe out any feelings of gratitude than to go to the mall,” said Carly.
Dave said his parents flavored his lack of enthusiasm for the shopping tradition. “I was raised by ‘I don’t even want to THINK about the traffic!’ on one side and ‘You shouldn’t have to wait in line for someone to take money from you,’ on the other,” he said.
So who are these people frothing at the mouth to bargain shop on Black Friday? The National Retail Federation said it expects as many as 152 million people to be out shopping between Friday and Sunday, up 10% from last year and the biggest expected turnout ever.
A report by the International Council of Shopping Centers even showed that Black Friday is fast becoming Black Thursday, with an unprecedented number of stores and entire shopping centers opening at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving night.
I’ll be thinking of them when I hit the snooze button on the $2.99 doorbuster sale- priced bright yellow happy faced alarm clock I bought late in the afternoon on Black Friday last year.
Then again, there might be something better to dream of this holiday season. At midnight on Thanksgiving night, Abercrombie & Fitch reportedly will place its famed, shirtless male greeters at every U.S. Abercrombie and Hollister store. “They are iconic symbols of our brand,” says spokesman Eric Cerny. “They generate buzz whenever they’re out.”
And I don’t think it’s the buzz of my alarm clock that he’s talking about.