Opinion

Black Friday: A consumerist playground

Story by Mariah Cowsert, Opinion Intern
Image courtesy of theverge.com

Tis the season to punch one another over discounted crock-pots, risk car accidents due to careless driving to reach sales, and duck out of the family dinner to get the latest iPad. Stores such as Toys R’Us, Macy’s, Sears, and Target will be opening their doors as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day so you can thank your grandma for her homemade apple pie then bolt over to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy the flat-screen television that you’ve been itching to place over your mantle.

In recent years we’ve seen retailers open their doors earlier and earlier in order to have an edge over their competition which is a stark contradiction in the message of the season, being thankful for what we have and gathering with family and friends in a time of bonding. In a study on consumer-product attachment by the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, researchers found that product “attachment was highly correlated with irreplaceability, and to a much lesser extent with functional necessity as captured by indispensability.”

Their data also showed that consumers have more positive attachment to products they’d owned for years and had a family or personal connection to while products purchased on a whim had less positive attachment and were seen as dispensable.

The dangers of Black Friday don’t just stop at having to explain to your grandpa why the kids are always on the Tinder or getting sat at the kids table for dinner. With 60 to 70 million people devouring their pride and tapping into their inner extreme couponer in a race for sales, parking lot car accidents skyrocket.  In data collected by Progressive Insurance in 2010 to 2011, the number of claims on Black Friday doubled and parking lot claims rose 36 percent. Rear-end accidents made up 12.5 percent of claims, while 11.1 percent involved a parked car being hit.

While most retailers will open their doors to consumers early, others have completely opted out of selling goods on Thanksgiving. Major stores such as H&M, REI, Costco, TJ Maxx, and Staples have put their foot down on the battles of the brands that is Black Friday. An overlooked area of shopping that is beneficial to our community is Small Business Saturday which encourages consumers to buy locally and enjoy doing it. As someone who tries to buy as locally as possible, it’s important that if we are needing to get gifts for others that we do it in a way that brings us together while also supporting the people we see everyday in our community.

Grand Rapids has several events geared towards the support of small business owners such as the Uptown Holiday Shop Hop. This year’s event takes place on December 3 and features strolling carolers, live entertainment, appetizers and refreshments, and a shuttle service to transport visitors between the shops of East Fulton, East Hills, Eastown and Wealthy Street. So enjoy the time spent with friends and family this year on Thanksgiving even if you get a lecture from Aunt Edna about wearing more layers in the snowy weather.

 

About the Writer…mariah

Mariah Cowsert is a junior studying Communication with a Theatre Emphasis and English. She has been writing for The Saint since last fall and is excited to continue doing what she loves through her internship with The Saint as Opinion Intern, soon to be Opinion Editor. In her free time she enjoys running, acting and technical theatre involvement, painting, talking in third person for bios, and reading.

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