Black Friday madness commences right after the last piece of pie has been eaten at the Thanksgiving table, before everyone has lapsed into a food induced coma.
The Friday after Thanksgiving has long been considered the start of the Christmas shopping season.
However, it was not always known as “Black Friday.” According to abcnews.com, this nickname was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1966 to describe the frustrating traffic jams, hectic crowds, and large amounts of robberies brought on by the first shopping day of the Christmas season.
In the 1930s, when Thanksgiving was the last Thursday of November, retailers anticipated the mass of people that would come to shop in their stores the next day. After experiencing years in which November had five Thursdays instead of four, retailers became unhappy with the shortened Christmas shopping season.
Lobbyists for the retailers pushed President Theodore Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday in November, starting in 1939. Two years later, Congress intervened to settle some controversy over Roosevelt’s change, and Thanksgiving was then established on the fourth Thursday of November each year. The result was a 25-day Christmas shopping season.
For modern shoppers, Black Friday has become a tradition that requires many hours of preparation and careful planning to ensure shoppers get the best advertised deals.
Families and friends come in droves to camp out for hours on end awaiting the opening of their favorite stores.
“The lines of people are backed up all the way to Walmart. Thousands of people, perhaps,” said Travis, a sales consultant at Best Buy Easton.
Especially with stores offering electronic sales, people have been known to camp out for days.
“My mom and I usually get to Old Navy an hour and a half before it opens. We stand in the freezing, pouring rain waiting to get in,” junior Margaret Schocken said.
Schocken also said that in 2009, she waited for three hours in the checkout line at Old Navy alone.
It is also common to witness altercations between shoppers on Black Friday, fights that can sometimes turn violent.
Schocken recalls, “My uncle once witnessed a huge fight at Sports Authority. He said he got trampled as he was walking through the door and then a fight broke out.”
Senior Manette Asta also enjoys the annual tradition of Black Friday shopping.
“I like going to Walmart because it’s the most entertaining,” Asta said. Throughout her many years of braving the holiday crowds, she said she has never witnessed any fights.
“I never saw anyone fight over something, but I saw this one worker start crying as she scanned yet another transformer,” Asta said.
During this year’s hysteria, shoppers are expected to focus mainly on the usual electronic devices, laptops, TVs, cameras and game systems. Clothes and accessories are expected to follow closely behind.
Travis said the smart TVs at Best Buy are highly anticipated items for this Black Friday. These devices are capable of connecting to the Internet to access social networks, stream music and videos and more. Regular prices on smart TV range from $200 to $25,000, but on Black Friday, they could be discounted greatly.
In an effort to organize the chaos of Black Friday, shoppers should be sure to do some preparation beforehand.
Checking online to compare the deals of different stores will help shoppers choose which stores to go to in order to get the best deals on the items on their list. There are many price comparison websites that can help with this, including PriceGrabber.com and Shopper.com.
They can also use store’s websites to decide whether or not they should brave the crowds to fight for their goods. If the same deals that are available in store are also available online, they dodge the crowds and purchase the same things.
If shoppers are trying to track down digital cameras this Black Friday, they have a higher chance of getting a better deal on the year’s newer models if they wait until February or March. Newest models are unveiled in the spring, so the “older models” are likely to be marked down.
Clothing and accessories are less likely than electronics and appliances to run out, so shoppers can save their time waiting for those items until the last few days of the holiday shopping season.
To allow for more shopping time, some stores are opening extra early for Black Friday this year.
Kohl’s, Macy’s and JCPenney are some of the few that have opted to open their doors at 8p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Many employees are unhappy with this change, as it means they will have to cut their Turkey Day festivities short to come into work.
Despite the advantage retailers would earn by opening early on Thanksgiving, many of them have decided to keep their annual Black Friday hours. Among these are Express and Best Buy, both of which open at midnight on Black Friday. And if you miss out on the deals for Black Friday, there’s always Cyber Monday!