Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Is It Worth It?

You would think that college students would be down for a deal or a steal any day of the week, but many students from various colleges had mixed reactions on the meaning of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the busiest shopping days of the year. Their main gripe? Materialism.

“It takes away from the whole season of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be: communing with your family and being appreciative of them being there in your life,” said Maya Hudlin (CAS ’18).

In the United States, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, noted as the first day of Christmas shopping season, during which crowds are drawn to special offers by retailers. In a shopping context, the earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving. The name originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.

According to Oxford Dictionary, these days, a popular explanation is that Black Friday represented the point in the year when retailers aimed for a profit, thus going from being “in the red,” and being in debt, to being “in the black,” and making a profit.

Cyber Monday was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. According to PR Newswire, a Cision company, the term was coined by Ellen Davis and made its debut on Nov. 28, 2005. Many people find it much easier than the hassle of fighting in stores.

Connor Hanlon, a junior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, prefers Cyber Monday for it’s simplicity. “I can take advantage of it more easily,” said Hanlon.

Another benefit of Cyber Monday is the appeal of not getting injured. Or dying.

According to the Inquisitr, the total fatality count from Black Friday between 2006 and 2014 is seven deaths and 98 injuries. Only two of the deaths included in the Black Friday count have been a result of people being “trampled” by aggressive deal seekers. Two more were a result of a shooting in a 2008 Black Friday incident at a Toys ‘R Us in Southern California. The other fatalities were a result of car crashes that were deemed to be a result of Black Friday shopping in 2014.

The injuries are largely a result of either Black Friday “stampedes” or shoppers fighting over items they’d waited hours in line for, often in blistering cold temperatures.

Two particular Black Friday incidents, one at a Los Angeles-area Walmart and another in North Carolina, both involved pepper spray. In 2011, an off duty police officer used pepper spray on Black Friday North Carolina shoppers, injuring 20 people. Twenty people were also injured in the L.A. Walmart in 2011, in what was simply termed a “pepper spray attack.”

“The fact that people get into fights and people actually die because of this event shows what is truly horrible about the level of consumerism we have in our country,” said Ale Chousal, a junior at San Diego Mesa College. “The hype is not worth the outcome.”

Although some may view the day as a materialistic marketing ploy, there are some who think the day is useful for the less fortunate.

“Deals are nice for families that might not have as much money but still want to give each other gifts that they’ve longed for all year,” said Brittany Foley, a senior at Northeastern University.

The holiday shopping season is also crucial for the economy, according to The Balance, a website that is home to experts who deliver advice on how to handle money. Thirty percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas.

According to CNN Money, in 2015, data collected by Adobe found U.S. online orders totaled $3.07 billion and $2.74 billion worth of merchandise was sold on Black Friday.

Maithreyi Koppolu, a freshman at Chapman University and Black Friday advocate, said she doesn’t mind the materialistic sense of the day.

“I think materialism is part of our world whether we agree or not,” said Koppolu, “Allowing ourselves to splurge every once in a while is nothing to be ashamed of, and Black Friday from an economical standpoint is nothing but helpful.”

If you’re looking for thrills and deals, get ready for two crazy shopping days. If not, there’s always leftover turkey that needs eating.

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