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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stores opening earlier eliminate essence of holidays

    For most Americans, Thursday was a time to share a hearty meal with friends and family before slipping into a food-induced coma while watching 300-pound men clobber each other on TV. It’s the kind of yearly excess that we all make room for on our schedule.

    For 33 million Americans, however, Thursday featured an entirely different kind of excess. I’m talking, of course, about Brown Thursday. Brown Thursday doesn’t refer to what happens after eating too much of your grandma’s stuffing, but it stinks to high heaven all the same.

    The phenomenon of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is a recent one, but this year’s turnout has likely cemented its status as an annual fixture. Aside from the preposterous name, Brown Thursday is truly an abomination of America’s consumerist culture.

    Brown Thursday began as a prelude to the ubiquitous Black Friday sales. The Black Friday phenomenon actually has its roots in the 19th century, but didn’t have a positive connotation until the 1980s when companies joked that this is when they were finally “in the black” from an accounting perspective.

    As the traditional start of the holiday season, 6 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving generally marked the beginning of an almost month-long period during which retailers report more than 60 percent of their annual sales occur.

    In 2011, a number of large retailers started opening their doors at midnight.

    That action has set off what John Talbott, associate director of the Center for Education and Research in Retailing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, considers “a retail arms race.” A MasterCard spending analysis revealed that 70 percent of consumer spending takes place in the first two stores a Black Friday shopper visits.

    This has led a number of major retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart to encroach upon the actual Thanksgiving holiday. The sooner consumers can line up outside their stores, the more spending is likely to occur.

    “Black Friday is now Gray Friday,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, to a number of media outlets.

    Kmart opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and stayed open 41 hours.

    “My guess is Kmart will open at 6 a.m. and stay open 41 straight hours, shoppers will buy, and next year we’ll see other retailers follow to rebalance competitive playing fields,” Talbott told Forbes. As to the objections to these practices by the American public, “The reality is these [objections] are not reinforced by consumers attending these events and spending their money.”

    That’s the sad truth of the situation. American greed and consumerism has pushed its way into one of the two days traditionally reserved as a non-shopping day. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years, Walmart opens Christmas morning to give tardy shoppers one last chance at picking up a hot new toy.

    As long as it is offered to us as consumers, we will turn out and pay. Preliminary IBM analysis suggests that Thanksgiving sales are up 19.7 percent from last year’s total of $810 million. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Internet can quickly find dozens of montages of brawls and altercations that take place when four dozen people are fighting over the last Vizio television.

    I haven’t even touched on the questionable practice of making employees spend time away from their families during a national holiday. So it seems that the retailers have succeeded in pushing the holiday window one day earlier, all so that we can spend money in the worship of our Lord: the American dollar.

    Come to think of it, perhaps Thanksgiving, a holiday whose idyllic pilgrim roots tends to gloss over the indigenous genocide aspects of American colonization, is the perfect start to this month-long orgy of consumption.

    Max Weintraub is a senior studying creative writing and Italian studies. Follow him @mweintra13.

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