Time to Terminate Black Friday Tradition


Erika Riedel, Business Editor

After being stuffed to the brim with turkey and pumpkin pie, it is an American tradition for families get up early the next day to mob local malls and department stores on Black Friday.

Hoping to cash-in on apparel deals, students like junior Ella Seaman raided Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek on November 29. “It is a good excuse to buy things I normally wouldn’t any other time of the year,” said Seaman.

The term Black Friday traces back to an unlucky Friday in 1869 when investors Jay Gould and James Fisk created a financial panic after attempting to corner the gold market.

Today’s version of this day continues to cause problems, making Black Friday a tradition worth ending.

From store-opening stampedes to shopping-isle brawls, Black Friday’s chaos has caused countless injuries and even deaths in recent years. Since 2006, there have been 117 recorded injuries and 12 deaths associated with the event.

According to U.S. News, in 2006 an employee of a Long Island Mall, Jdimytai Damour, was trampled to death after attempting to save a pregnant woman from being injured in the frenzy of Black Friday customers.

This unhealthy obsession for Black Friday deals is a cause for concern. No sale is worth risking life and limb.

In addition, with dozens of advertisements on TV and billboards, retailers do everything they can to remind consumers of their door-busting sales. However, these deals are often too good to be true, as The Wall Street Journal has identified an 8% rise in prices for about 1/5 of the 1,743 products they tracked just before Thanksgiving.

While stores do reduce prices for Black Friday, they amplify them during the rest of the year, which helps offset the money potentially lost from the sale.

A hefty portion of these must-have Black Friday products are bought on a whim and end up being returned. With a 30% return rate, according to Forbes, these spontaneous purchases are not only inconvenient for customers to go back and return, but also for retailers as a large chunk of their profit vanishes and the products might be stretched or damaged.

These shopaholics may think that by returning items, their overindulgence is justified, but the excess packaging used for shipping online orders and low probability of the item being salvageable enough to be re-sold makes this behavior wasteful. 

With an average American throwing away 80 pounds of used clothing each year, according to Forbes, it is time for people to recognize the difference between what they want and what they need when it comes to retail shopping. The environmental cost of an item is more than the price on the tag.

Discarded material used in fast-fashion clothing often contains microfibers of plastic that eventually pollute the ocean.

These impulsive purchases on Black Friday are a prime example of a materialistic mentality.

According to the New York Post, a French legislative committee is currently deciding whether or not to pass an amendment to ban the annual shopping frenzy.

Its violent history and negative environmental impact make Black Friday a holiday that should be terminated.