Why I Am Opting Out Of Black Friday Altogether

Two women with shopping bags on the street during Black Friday

I Hate Black Friday.

In my mind, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who get a rush from standing in line outside of a mall at 4 a.m. for a blowout sale and those who prefer to stay in their beds. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sale, am embarrassingly addicted to shopping and am highly competitive, but no matter how good the deals are on Black Friday—one of the biggest shopping days of the year—I can confidently say that I hate it. You heard me: I hate Black Friday.

Vanessa Jackman

First-Hand Experience

The only time I have ever participated in this national pastime was five years ago. I waited in line in the freezing cold for two hours with a bunch of angsty teens (a group I belonged to myself at the time), only to get trampled by the anxious crowd when the doors finally opened. Once inside, all I found were heaps of sad, picked-over clothing and—to my horror—even more lines.

When a day dedicated to discounted shopping detracts from time spent with family, something is wrong with our priorities.

I was shocked, and not in a good way. I fled the store without a single shopping bag in tow. What I did leave with was a newfound distaste for all things Black Friday.

Unless you live under a retail rock you know that Black Friday falls the day after Thanksgiving and often means stores open in the wee hours of the morning. In an attempt to outbid the competition, many stores have even started opening on Thanksgiving Day—you know, the day we should all be dedicating to giving thanks and spending time with our loved ones, rather than shopping. I love getting to spend time with friends and family during this time of the year and cutting any of that time short feels wrong to me, especially when it's to track down a good price on a TV, coat or the latest tech gadget. When a day dedicated to discounted shopping detracts from time spent with family, something is wrong with our priorities.

Death By Black Friday

There is now an actual website dedicated to keeping a tally of the deaths, casualties and injuries caused by Black Friday.

Then there is the fact that Black Friday is also arguably the most aggressive sport known to man. Yes, I said “sport.”If you are running, sprinting, kicking and trampling people with a goal or prize in mind, you are—for all intents and purposes—playing a sport. There is something about slashed prices that brings out the worst in people. In fact, there is now an actual website dedicated to keeping a tally of the deaths, casualties and injuries caused by Black Friday. The current number is seven deaths and 98 injuries. (Sadly, these are in fact real statistics. Horrific, I know.)

Companies Are Taking A Stand

Luckily, I’m not the only one disturbed by the frenzy known as Black Friday. Some companies are acknowledging that it has gone too far. In fact, REI has decided to close all 143 of its retail stores on Black Friday this year—traditionally one of the company’s top sales days of the year. The CEO of REI, Jerry Stritzke, was quoted in Forbes as saying, “We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand, and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.” A sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Alternatives To The Madness

If you can’t stomach the concept of fighting the Friday crowds but still want to get good deals, a great alternative to Black Friday is Cyber Monday. The sales are just as good and—even better—only a click away, so you can spend time with your family after Thanksgiving and still enjoy unbeatable prices (sans the shoving and endless lines).

Additionally American Express created a program called Small Business Saturday, encouraging consumers to shop at mom-and-pop businesses on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in an effort to prevent these small-scale retailers from losing customers to the juggernaut chains during the holidays. Talk about feel-good shopping.

Another thing to consider is that sales are starting way earlier in a lot of places, some of them are even already underway. Not only are they beginning earlier, they are also lasting longer. So that dress you want may actually become cheaper the longer you wait. Perhaps patience is still a virtue after all.

I Still Love Shopping

Let me reiterate that this is just my personal opinion. I fully support retail therapy of all sorts (please refer to my previous admission of a shopping addiction), but even the most tempting sale doesn't make me want to ditch my family to throw elbows at strangers. If you love the thrill of the chase, more power to you, and I hope you find the deals you seek. I, however, will be surrounded by friends and family, avoiding the lines, feisty shoppers and endless crowds in favor of Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and keeping my sanity.

Lead image by Adam Katz Sinding