For some, the third Thursday of November marks a day of gratitude and love, but for many, this day has come to represent something different: a day of insane shopping deals. Many consider Black Friday to be one of the best days of the year to go shopping as businesses across the U.S. run extreme sales and make insane profits as a result. According to a study run by Snapchat, about 70 percent of Generation Z users plan to shop on Black Friday this year, and most are expected to spend around $250 during the sale.
As a fellow broke college student, I more than understand the appeal of bargain hunting, especially during the holidays as there are always so many gifts to buy for people. But at what cost?
In recent years, large stores, like Walmart and Best Buy, have begun starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving night, thus dragging those in search of a good deal away from their loved ones on the holiday and toward overcrowded stores. Rather than leaning into the corporate manipulation that fuels early Black Friday sales, however, people should spend Thanksgiving giving thanks and in turn relieve retail workers from the burden of working when they could be spending time with their loved ones.
Undoubtedly, Thanksgiving itself was built upon problematic values. Thanksgiving actually marked the begining of the genocide of millions of Native Americans by colonialism. Despite this history, the holiday now focuses on fostering the values of togetherness and gratitude, and it is important that these values remain intact despite Black Friday so that we are able to take a moment to ground ourselves. Time is rare, and as busy college students, it’s important to make the most of that time. More importantly, spending time with loved ones or showing gratitude in some way on Thanksgiving, rather than shopping, also takes the pressure off retail workers who are forced to work the holiday.
The recent shift to having Thanksgiving day sales has exploited retail workers who need the money and job, leaving no choice but to spend the day at work. While some major retailers, such as Costco and T.J. Maxx, have started closing on Thanksgiving to allow their employees more time to celebrate, the list of stores starting to open earlier on Thanksgiving day seems to keep growing.
This is in part due to increasing corporate manipulation and greed, both of which ironically undermine the societally adopted “values” of modern Thanksgiving. According to Business Insider, companies make the conscious decision to begin their sales earlier, preying on consumer anxieties of missing out on deals. A Wall Street Journal study even found that many stores mark up the regular price of an item a few weeks prior to the sales so that the sale price seems more discounted to customers.
In doing so, these companies are pulling in more customers and requiring more workers to run the stores as a result. These companies fail to take into consideration the plight of workers on Thanksgiving, and many force employees into working the holiday. This gross display of greed is the reason why many people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with those they love as they need the money and can’t afford to take a day off.
Ultimately, we should strive to avoid Thanksgiving day sales not only so that we can spend time with our loved ones, but also to support the millions of retail workers who are forced to spend the holiday at a cash register instead of with the people most important to them.
Art by Jessica Ni, an artist with the UCSD Guardian Art Department.