Everything You Know About Black Friday is Wrong

Last week, we, here in the US, experienced that most wonderful of all days, “Black Friday.” On TV news reports, in daily newspapers, readers and viewers were treated to pictures of people standing in lines, waiting for Big Box retailers to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day. These people camp out (I literally mean “camp out.” Like, in tents, with generators and heaters), days and weeks in advance, in order to be first in line for electronics, televisions, and so on.

And now . . . what’s this? Black Friday is another made-up bullshit day like Sweetest Day? Say is isn’t so.

It turns out that a lot of what we’re told about Black Friday is invented by retailers and the marketing experts they hire. Retailers like Black Friday because the earlier customers start their holiday shopping, the more they are likely to spend over all. This year, the competition is heightened because of a relatively short window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In search of holiday-season profits, retailers work to exploit people’s worries about missing a good deal—and the media, looking for a fun story, joins in.

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