Sales overshadow day of thanks
Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011
Scripps Howard News Service
Last week may mark the gradual disappearance of Thanksgiving. It will be eclipsed by the lengthening shadow of Black Friday.
Thanksgiving will still be around, but not so youíd notice it. Pilgrims and Indians are being replaced by door busters and rolling sales. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is less a family feast than an opportunity for carbo loading for the rigors of the morrowís shopping marathon.
The weekend after Thanksgiving has always been the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but the Christmas ads began right after Halloween with darn little mention of Thanksgiving.
Americaís hypercompetitive retailers began hyping their Black Friday sales, and Americaís hypercompetitive shoppers responded. Stores began opening earlier; for a few brief years, 4 a.m. Friday was the tacitly agreed-upon opening time. But then some stores moved it back to midnight, others followed and now some are opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.
In a similar race to be first, shoppers began lining up earlier too. One Best Buy banned tents in the waiting line. Undaunted, the hardy shoppers froze in the open.
The Occupy movement urged its followers to boycott big-box chain stores. Blocking access to the stores would have been too dangerous because the 152 million people expected to hit the stores this weekend would have stampeded right over them. Three years ago, a Walmart clerk in New York state was trampled to death when he failed to get out of the way of onrushing shoppers fast enough.
The Tea Party responded by calling for a ěBUYcott,î needlessly because the Black Friday bargain hunters were too preoccupied to notice.
Near Los Angeles, a woman pepper sprayed a horde of rioting shoppers when they got too close to her purchases. A witness told the Los Angeles Times that a pushing, screaming crowd tore open plastic-wrapped pallets of goods, trampling the merchandise in their frenzied haste for bargains.
One viral video showed shoppers rioting over $2 waffle makers. One woman began losing her pants but she wasnít going to let go of that waffle iron. Thereís no way the Thanksgiving poem ěThe Courtship of Miles Standishî can compete with that.