26 November 2011

Black Friday Blues

Everyone loves a good deal. You like to save money, right? Of course, I think everyone who is not in the top 1% can say they like to save money as much as they can, because, for the most part, they need it. During the holidays, this can be especially important when gift-giving is going on, because you want the person to be happy with what you got, but you don't want to break your bank.

Source: schweizwallpaper.com

Here in America, there's a not very nice tradition that we all know as Black Friday (curse the day!!). The more well known explanation for this moniker is that the profits are driven up so high that they drive the overall profit into the "black" or profitable area- meaning they're making money from it, and out of the red, which is used to denote losses. This is thought to mean that the profits they're making actually can make up for any of the losses they've incurred over the year, and still be profitable.

Shops in the states have been opening their doors earlier and earlier every year. It used to be that between 6 and 8am was a reasonable opening hour for Black Friday. There were, and still are tremendous sales, and everyone rushes in to see what kind of bargains to get. It always, always follows Thanksgiving, and is considered to really be the "kickoff" of the holiday shopping season, although some holiday shopping begins before that date, and often holiday decorations go up as soon as Halloween is over.

As a retail employee, or associate, I should say, I know the ins and outs of Black Friday, especially having worked more than one retail destination. It IS NOT fun to be on the employee side of the counter. Yes we get paid for it- but it's a constant stream of people demanding deals and discounts because, of course, everything has to be cheaper....it's Black Friday!!
Imagine lines something like this all...day....long....
Source: bakersfield.com

Not only that, but the stores are crowded and bursting at the seams with people shopping, from open to close, and people dig through the merchandise as though it were a toybox and they were searching for a lost toy; once they find what they are looking for, or decide it's not there, they leave it a mess. This often goes on from 4am now (or earlier- Target and Macy's, as well as a few others, began at midnight, WalMart began at 10pm) until closing time, which this Black Friday, at my retailer, was 11pm. It took 4 hours after closing to get the store in shop-worthy condition, and there were boatloads of items that were to be put in place, but we just didn't have the time- it was 3am before we left!

People can be rude, too. Pushy, mean, horrible! A few years ago in New York, an employee was trampled to death when Black Friday shoppers got impatient and knocked down the doors to enter, trapping the employee beneath the door. Customers sometimes fight over items. There were arrests in the local WalMart last night, and the fire marshal in town actually had to close the store completely for a few hours. People were yelling at each other for standing in the wrong place to form a line. When you're a cashier, people don't want you to leave your register---"Can't you check out just one more person? I only have one item..."...and so does the next person....and so forth.

People even go so far as to CAMP outside stores waiting to be the first inside to get deals. At the local Best Buy, there were tents parked outside the front door on Tuesday waiting for Black Friday deals. They absolutely had to be the first in the store to get their deals. Part of Target actually had to be corded off for the line to form. Employees could hardly get in to open the store because people didn't want to let anyone cut them in line. The employees kind of need to get in there, donchya think!!

Source: pcmag.com
Needless to say, Black Friday is a big deal.

I worked an 11-hour shift on Friday, ending at 3am. 9 hour shift Saturday, starting at 10am. 9 hour shift Sunday, closing. 30 hours in 3 days, which is enough to be a full-time workweek- and I'm considered part-time. It's demanding. It's challenging.

I've learnt a lot though. I've become more skilled just through today. I've met goals. I've worked hard. No, I don't really like working retail, because it's difficult, demanding, and just not my interest, but I do like the interactions I have. I like having a job finally, even though it's putting me in some pain.

I will never, ever, though.....love Black Friday. In fact, on my dry erase calendar, I've drawn flames beneath the date, where I've written "Black Friday" with a frown, the flames representing the pits of hell, because that's all Black Friday is. You scan items all day (if you're a cashier), then you clean up the mess people leave behind searching for the best deals all night. You never, ever get out within 2 hours of closing time, because the store is never even near in shape.

And the way things are trending, before we know it, Thursday will be Black Thursday too, and nobody will get to spend time with their family on Thanksgiving, because everyone will be out shopping or being the employee working so those people can shop. Retail employers even have a rule that every employee has to work Black Friday, regardless of other prior arrangements or engagements. It's part of your job agreement, and your job is at stake if you tell them you won't work or if you call in. It's part of the holidays!
Source: marketingpilgrim.com

It's that serious.

Black Friday is, indeed, very black. In fact, it makes my mood very blue and my outlook very dark....I'd say black. The only way to ever understand is to actually work in retail on a Black Friday....then you'll fully understand. Until then....you have no idea how bad it is. Yes, I'm grumbling about it. Sure, they have great deals, and it brings in profit....but it just doesn't seem like it's all worth all the trouble we all go through.

Source: facebook.com

Nevertheless, Black Friday is over for one more year, and I need an "I survived Black Friday" button. I'd like 4 of them, actually, because I've survived 4 Black Fridays as a retail employee. Yes, four. One day I'll get out of retail, one day. I'll just have to hold out for now.

But for this year, Black Friday is over. Hallelujah!!!


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