Saturday, November 17, 2012

When Friday Became Thursday Night


Every year about this time the “Make-Sense-O-Meter” needle drops so far to the left in the meter that it cannot be seen. Picture a sound monitor in a music or radio studio that has a little needle that moves to the left and to the right depending on the volume of the music. This monitor also is equipped with a red light that appears when you are running “hot” as we say in the business or too loud. It is this monitor that I am using as an analogy for the “Make-Sense-O-Meter.” As I said, it is at this time of year that the needle just falls dead on that meter and if it were able to fall out of the monitor, it would.  I am sure by now you are either wondering what is he talking about or what has dropped the needle so far below zero or both. I am thrilled that your critically thinking minds are asking. The opening of stores as early at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night is what has dropped the “Make-Sense-O-Meter” indicator needle dead and oddly enough it is not necessarily because of the decision to open at that time (though I will address that too), but that too many of us as consumers will be at the doors on November 22 at or before 8:00 p.m. with the proverbial “bells on.” I have never shopped on “Black Friday” because for me personally, there is not that much shopping or gift buying in the world that would cause me to leave my home at  8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night (opening time was at one time somewhere between 3:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. Friday morning) to stand on some line; to wait to enter some store; to buy some items that ought not have been as expensive as they were to begin with because those expensive prices have been so called “slashed.”  That’s what has knocked the needle in the “Make-Sense-O-Meter” dead. 

As a marketing major with a degree in Business Administration, I totally understand from the retailer's point of view, (though I don’t agree with it) their trying every trick in the book”(Black Friday is one of those tricks) to make that “Almighty Dollar." I don’t agree with it from the standpoint of the employee. You now have employees who for the most part won’t be able to really relax and enjoy their Thanksgiving because they are going to have to leave whatever celebrations they are attending and go to work.  Yes, some could argue that they had the day portion of the holiday off and that it is no big deal to have to come to work Thanksgiving evening. It is a big deal however because now the employee will have to cut short his/her visits either to try to get some rest before work, or leave their location of celebration to go directly to work. Either way, their holiday is cut short
It has been reported that one of the reasons for the earlier store openings is the increase of customers who are shopping online. So let me get this straight….. People who choose to make purchases online and stay in the comfort of their homes are causing other people (store employees) to now have to leave the comfort of their homes on a holiday and another set of people who will voluntarily be standing on lines and in large crowds beginning earlier in their holiday waiting for the doors to open. The needle on the Make-Sense-O-Meter has fallen out of the monitor.
Retail advertising and gimmicks such as opening at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Night has become the shepherd to far too many consumer sheep. I use this analogy because as long as sheep have a leader, they are absolved of thinking for themselves, they can just merrily follow along with the flock. Retailers have become that leader. Retailers (Shepherds) every year around Thanksgiving bank on these sheep to merrily follow along and flock to their doors. They are banking on these sheep to not really be thinking, but to be caught up and mesmerized by the barrage of radio and television commercials advertising sale prices(Even Lay-Away is now fashionable). They are banking on the flock so much now that they are opening their doors even earlier hence Black Friday now being extended into Thanksgiving Thursday Night.  And guess what, the shepherds will most likely be smiling all the way to the bank because nearly 135 million shoppers go out to shop on Black Friday every year. Reports show that in 2010, 212 million shoppers spent $39 billion for an average spending amount of $365.34.   Every now and then the retail shepherd even has to deal with the valley of the shadow of death because who can forget the Walmart employee who was trampled to death a few years ago by the flock trying to get to those sales. But that’s not enough to stop the madness. All of this in the name of shopping; buying more stuff. All of this just to say I went shopping on “Black Friday” and I was there.

One commentary I received from a reader was I was trying to get readers to think what I think. That is not my objective. It really does not matter to me if you see things like I see them or think like I am thinking or not. What matters is your taking the time to really look at an issue and giving some thought to what we are doing and why. Always ask yourself, does that make sense? What doesn't make sense to me may make sense to you and vice versa. The bottom line is we really need to think before we act. We get what we allow. Greed is leading us more and more. Something to critically think about.  You are invited to follow The Critical Thinker now via our podcast at, and on Twitter @thinkcritical01.  I also invite your feedback (whether you agree with me or not) by clicking on the red “feedback” tab on the right side of your screen and in the commentary section below in the blog.

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