Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

True Price of Shopper’s Safety

3 min read

Black-Friday brings out the worst in consumers.

The New York Times just published that total spending for this year’s Black-Friday, including online sales, reached an estimated $52.4 billion Thursday through Sunday, according to the National Retail Federation.

While these figures are good for companies, what happens on the ground during the shopping holiday is pretty disgusting.

The Los Angeles Times reported that at a Walmart in Porter Ranch, Calif., a woman pepper-sprayed 20 shoppers during a Black-Friday sale. Apparently, the store was offering games at $30 instead of $60.

So our question is, what’s your price? How much in savings would it take for you to go crazy and start pepper-spraying people around you? Clearly, this woman’s price was $30. But what about $20? Would $20 in savings have been enough incentive to physically harm people around her?

As a society, we need to take a step back for a moment and think about how ridiculous holiday shopping has become, how petty we’ve become. Saving a few bucks on your holiday shopping is never worth getting violent over.

Holiday shopping is supposed to be an expression of love, not greed.

Sure, little Joshua really wants to see that hot new “Star Wars” toy under the tree on Christmas, but how far are you willing to go to see his precious smile? Would you check a dozen stores to see which one has it for the best deal? Would you sleep outside in the cold in front of the store? Would you fight someone eyeing the same deal?

Let’s also consider, for a moment, the Internet. You know, that crazy digital world where you can check a hundred different stores for the best deal on that hot new “Star Wars” toy in the blink of an eye and have it shipped to you without ever needing to get off the couch? Yeah, we should use that more. Then maybe we can avoid some of the ridiculous violence tendencies that people just can’t seem to suppress in person.

It was reported by the Washington Post that crowds looted a clothing store in New York’s Soho. At a Walmart near Phoenix, a police officer beat a man bloody on suspicion of shoplifting. There were shootings outside a store in San Leandro, Calif., and inside a mall in Fayetteville, N.C. Someone was stabbed outside a store in Sacramento, N.Y.

Black-Friday is so named because it is the day that most retailers move into the black and begin to make profit. But it might as well just be because there are so many crowds that you can’t see in front of you.

According to psychologists, the mix of desperate retailers and cutthroat marketing has hyped the traditional post-Thanksgiving sales to increasingly madness. Since stores open earlier, shoppers often are sleep deprived and have short tempers.

Theresa Williams, a marketing professor at Indiana University, was quoted in the Washington Post saying that the recent online-coupon phenomenon fed the psychological hunger for finding bargains. This, Williams stated, is a recipe for trouble.

Profit is not an excuse for inciting mobs. A bargain is not an excuse for pepper-spraying other patrons.

Black-Friday shows consumerism in America at its very worst.

Next year we’re sticking to Cyber Monday.

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