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11.28.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Why I Detest Black Friday Marketing

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love everything about it.  The comfort food, the coming together with family and friends, and the opportunity to celebrate a year gone by. I love that Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday.  It’s like the four-day weekend from heaven.  Left overs, football, movies.  If I get real energetic, I might even dig out the holiday decorations for Christmas.

For me, this weekend is a sacred time.  It’s a time to reflect on the many blessings and opportunities that have come our way.  And, even in the tough years, it’s a time to be grateful for having survived the many losses.

Given all my expressed feelings about Thanksgiving, it won’t surprise you that I’m deeply opposed to the Black Friday mania that hits us before this wondrous holiday.

I have a strong aversion to holiday commercials that fail to mention the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  Worse yet, I abhor those incessant ads that work to lure us, like zombies cloaked in darkness, to the mall by midnight. The main message?  If you fail to get there on time, there won’t be enough.

Call me foolish, but I guess I long for the days when everything . . . I mean everything . . . was closed on Thanksgiving.  Now, I shutter to think how many families are separated by scarcity marketing that catapults us into a shopping frenzy at all hours of the day or night.

And, if I’m totally honest with myself, I guess I’m really missing something more.  I’m missing a nation that used to stop and take time for gratitude.  I’m missing a country who honored God for the abundance that envelops our democracy.  And, while I acknowledge that we are a nation founded on capitalism, I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t fallen into the precipice of greed.

When all is said and done, is a sale at midnight really a sale if it’s keeping me from spending time with the people I love?

The Difference Between Stewardship and Greed

There’s a lot to be said about stewardship.  One simple premise of stewardship is that it begins with gratitude.  When we are grateful, we take better care of our resources.  Money is a resource.  So, a sale at Target could be a good thing.  It’s how you think and behave with respect to that sale that matters.

If you’re strategically managing your resources, and a sale allows you to seek out a better price for a specific item, such an effort could be a great example of good stewardship.

However, if you’re running to the mall in a frenzy, trampling over other people to get what you want, totally oblivious to the original price point of something, and totally prey to the scarcity marketing hype, chances are, you’ve already lost something in the equation.

Think about it.  It’s called Black Friday for a reason.  This is the day all retailers attempt to make up for the sales they didn’t get all year long.  They are hoping to get out of the red and into the black. It’s a good thing.  We want every retailer in America to enjoy success.  But, hasn’t it all gone too far when Black Friday begins on Thanksgiving?

It’s like that childhood Dr. Seuss book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  We could edit the title to read, How Black Friday Stole Thanksgiving.  I guess I’m just saddened to think that scarcity marketing has now successfully competed and won against one of our most sacred national holidays.  Instead of taking time to express our gratitude through fellowship with one another, we shop.

I vow to do better next year.  For now, I’m muting the sound during these annoying holiday commercials; I plan to spend Christmas with my husband in a quiet place that doesn’t have malls.

If you discovered an amazing item on sale on Black Friday, I’d love to hear about it.  But, if you bought it on Thursday, please spare me the details.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. November 28, 2014