“Black Thursday”?

As the pumpkin pie was passed around and things began to quiet down on Thanksgiving Day, my cousins darted from the table and ran upstairs; only to return a few minutes later, fully dressed with purses in hand. “Where are you going?”, my grandmother asked. They replied in unison, “the mall”, and began on their shopping journey. Appalled, my family began to talk about store hours and how the Thanksgiving traditions we cherish are being damaged by the world of consumer culture. As a holiday once focused on family values is being transformed into a commercialized saga of who can get to the sale 60-inch TV first, “Black Thursday” is changing how America views holiday traditions.

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According to the Houston Chronicle, “Consumer culture is a form of capitalism in which the economy is focused on the selling of consumer goods and the spending of consumer money. A significant part of consumer culture is an emphasis on lifestyle and using material goods to attain happiness and satisfaction.” No “holiday” plays more on this theory than Black Friday. However, as stores are beginning to move their hours forward, the holiday has crept into Thanksgiving Day traditions, creating a new term, “Black Thursday”. According to the National Retail Federation, over 45 million customers showed up to shop on Thanksgiving Day in 2013, with 2014’s “Black Thursday” showing increasing estimates. With stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Toys ”R” Us, Best Buy, Big Lots, Shoe Carnival, Kmart (opening at 6 A.M. Thanksgiving Day and staying open whopping 42-hours), Michaels, Belk, JCPenney, Goody’s, and Ulta opening at 6 P.M. or earlier, the consumer culture madness doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As retail employees are forced to cut their holiday short, Steve Osburn from management firm Kurt Salmon explains, “”Consumers have started to accept that shopping on Thanksgiving is a growing habit. With consumer acceptance comes more people shopping.”

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With the prior one-day shopping event expanding into a weeklong extravaganza, Thanksgiving is quickly turning into what the New York Post calls “thanksgetting”. By turning the focus from what we are thankful for, to what new item we are going to purchase when we leave grandma’s house to hit the mall, consumer culture is rearing it’s ugly head into one of the most beloved American holidays. As more and more door-buster sales and opening times are released, it’s clear to see, “Black Friday is no longer an event for customers who wake up at the crack of dawn to get good deals.”

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– Rachel White

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60 thoughts on ““Black Thursday”?

  1. Great article! The new term I saw here that really hit home is “thanksgetting.” Me and a close friend of mine were just discussing over the holiday that we were letting our parents and family know that we did not want anything for Christmas this year. It’s supposed to be about the time you spend together not the things your parents bought for you with their sense of pride that the price tag was cut in half. Consumer culture is proof that our society is not thankful for what they have and never thinks about what they can give to help others. It’s a shame how selfish some of our culture has become. Is it too late to find our roots?

    • Olivia,

      “Thanksgetting” also stuck out to me when I was researching the topic. Consumer culture’s roots have deeply embedded within our culture and this concept cannot be more seen than in Black Friday as a national epidemic. Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving break!

      – Rachel

  2. This entire Thanksgiving break I have thought how insane it is that people act like this in order to just get good deals. I understand how much of a significant sale it is, but nothing is worth skipping time away from family, and standing in a line like sardines, and getting shoved around by strangers just so you can get that 50 in TV you have ALWAYS needed. It has almost become a spectator sport for some people. My facebook timeline has been nothing but videos of crazed shoppers fighting, getting arrested, and just being truly nasty people. The amount of money put back in the economy is astounding though. I read where after the full weekend is over that 60.2% of Americans will have participated in the sales, and spent an estimated 36.69 billion dollars. To me this is upsurd, but I am biased because I don’t like dealing with huge crowds and irrational people. Great post though. It really tied together what I have been thinking for this entire week.

    • Cole,

      I completely agree. I myself have tried to stay away from the mall at all cost and stick to online shopping during this time of year. While the sales may be great, I don’t believe anything can replace family time and enjoying the holiday for what it truly stands for. Thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  3. This blog really spoke to me because I’m a retail worker. I work at the Old Navy on South College Road and we opened at 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day and didn’t close until Midnight Black Friday night. We stayed open for 31 hours. This posed an issue because workers like myself couldn’t go out of state for Thanksgiving to be with their family (the real reason for Thanksgiving). Instead, I spent Thanksgiving with my dog in my living room waiting to go into work. The worst part was customers coming into work saying “they make you work Thanksgiving? That’s so horrible.” However, customers fail to acknowledge that we have to be there because they’re still there. What we’re experiencing isn’t Black Friday. We’re know experiencing Black Thursday packed with deals with some other sales on Friday – and that’s sad.

    • Kendall,

      I work at a restaurant which is open 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I indeed understand your pain. I worked Thanksgiving and got the same question over and over again. In my head I was thinking, “If you didn’t come in, maybe we would’t be open!”. I imagine that working retail is completely worse. I hope that you got to enjoy a bit of your Thanksgiving break and are able to go home over Christmas. Thanks for the comment!

      – Rachel

  4. I so agree with this, the stores are opening earlier and earlier every year. Family time is taking second place to the hunt. People are nastier during the Holidays, and for what reason? My fear is that it will only get worst! Inga

  5. I’m glad that someone wrote an article about this. The consumerism and greedy mentalities within America is getting out of control. Black Friday started on Thursday this year and I truly believe it will start getting pushed farther back each year. The saddest part to me is these employees that have to work on holidays when they could be spending time with their families. I know my neighbor actually left her family (husband and 3 kids) to go shopping on thanksgiving night. I like how you touched on the fact that this is no longer just an issue of Black Friday shoppers, but more so on the growth of more and more door buster sales, and opening times. I think Black Friday is a sad but true reality of how many Americans would like to spend their holiday.

    • Abigail,

      I have also seen the progression of the change from Black Friday to Black Thursday. While most Americans are focused on the goods they are receiving, they are forgetting the true meaning behind Thanksgiving. Thanks for your post!

      – Rachel

  6. I loved reading this blog. Every person can relate to either being involved in the mad houses on black friday or they sit back and relax after stuffing their faces. I liked the term “thanksgetting” because people aren’t realizing anymore what the holidays are about. Not on Thanksgiving but Christmas everyone is so wrapped up in the shopping or receiving gifts instead of enjoying time with the family. After a love one passes away you sit back and realize how much the small get-togethers really mean and how we should be grateful for the time that we have left to spend together, but then after a few weeks or months pass by we go back to thinking materialistic. It’s sad to see how many people rush to get these deals instead of spending time with their families and allowing employees to spend time with theirs.

    • Kayanna,

      This too saddens me. I work at a restaurant which is open 365 days a year and I worked on Thanksgiving, missing lunch with my family. Although it isn’t retail, it shows how America is focused on being catered to within consumer culture. Thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  7. There is so much irony in the fact that our society had made it a tradition to infiltrate a holiday that is supposed to be about being grateful for what we already have, and infringe it with the complete opposite attribute; The desire for more. They are obviously taking advantage of the first day of Christmas season beginning, have you noticed that Christmas decorations also go up earlier and earlier each year? (Or at least it would seem so to me)

    Consumer culture has infiltrated into literally every aspect of our lives as we continue to define ourselves by the things we own it only gets easier and easier…Sales are an advertising strategy. Black Friday is entirely purchase facilitation…it is pathetic.

    There is one good thing that was reported on regarding how stores are now opening on Thanksgiving’s eve- Less people came out on Black Friday, and there was less mayhem and destruction. That is the only good thing.

    • gsa7880,

      Another great observation showing how Thanksgiving is quickly becoming “Thanksgetting”, moving up holiday time each year. I too believe that sales are nothing but a marketing strategy and during my research read many articles on how Black Friday “sales” are not sales at all; just merely the average price of items with a “door buster” sticker on them. Great post.

      – Rachel

  8. Interesting writing!

    I am from Finland and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving back home. It was amazing to see how important family holiday Thanksgiving is here in America.

    As article talks, Thanksgiving is all about family values and being grateful! Still, consumer culture and commercializing are molding family holidays with fast pace. “Black Friday” is already starting on Thanksgiving Thursday and online shopping “Cyber Monday” is continuing this saga. Once being an important family holiday is nowadays an important retailer party. Also; another important family holiday, Christmas, is all about shopping gifts and decorating houses. Technological development and marketing can have most of the credit for these transformations.

    Besides marketing, technological developments, globalization and overall commercializing; I think also social media plays a big part in transforming consumer behaviors. As article says, through customer acceptance are old molds broken. People posting pictures about their “Black Friday” shoppings to Facebook and stores Twiiting about “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sales makes people to accept all that shopping culture around Thanksgiving. Also, social pressure to post pictures about Christmas decorations etc. makes people to change their consumer behavior towards mainstream.

    So “Thanksgetting” is all about shopping, but that’s the way we want it; or is it?

    • Arla,

      Thanks for your comment! You have an interesting standpoint as a Finland native and I believe you bring great insight on the American “tradition”. I also believe the rise of media advances the rise of consumer culture. It allows people to post their new items to their social networks, tweet about their shopping adventures, and sadly, sets up competition and comparison between others.

      – Rachel

  9. Black Thursday is a really good way of putting it. Our growing consumer culture is getting in the way of our real culture. Instant gratification is becoming a huge problem in our society. It has given Thanksgiving a lesser meaning by showing our selfishness and greed rather than focusing on the true meaning of the holiday, which is to give and be thankful. We rely more heavily on the deals we can get during the time and now it is showing a dark side of American Culture.

    • Alana,

      Thanks for your comment. It is clear to see how the IMC idea of consumer culture is applied within society today. Where else do you see this concept?

      – Rachel

  10. Great article! I was home with my family this year for Thanksgiving and it was the exact same thing. As soon as dinner was over and the leftovers were put away more than half of my family was gone to go shopping. I spent a lot of time overseas for the Marine Corps so being home with my family during the holidays means a lot to me. It saddens me to see that people are so excited to get that great deal that they are willing to sacrifice good quality with the people who supposedly mean the most to them. This just shows the way our society has changed over the past 50 years. I’m sorry, but I believe that no store should be open on Thanksgiving day and people should be spending time with their loved ones. You never know when you will get that chance again.

    • James,

      You bring a great perspective serving in the Marine Corps. I believe many people take family for granted and don’t realize it until it is too late. Thanks for your post!

      – Rachel

  11. I think that it is unfortunate that consumer culture has overlapped onto traditional holidays like Thanksgiving. The trend of getting on Thanksgiving instead of giving is shocking but true. This is not what this holiday is about and I think the public should recognize our material society change.

    • Jordan,

      Thanks for your comment! I hope someone is able to citizens are able to band together and step in to change the current progression of Black Thursday.

      – Rachel

  12. Rachel,
    I completely agree with this article. It is weird because I was just talking to one of my friends about this. I think it is insane that people feel the need to leave their families on Thanksgiving day to go save some money on products they want to buy. I usually go black Friday shopping with my mom but after all the stores changing their times to Thursday we decided against it. It is also unfair to the workers that have to work at these stores during the holiday they should be spending with their families. It is completely sad to see how many people go out at those times and shops. I could not image just leaving my family on Thanksgiving to get some good deals. This to me is absurd.

    • cr3434,

      It is great to see that people are being to change their shopping habits as Black Friday is changing more into Black Thursday. I read an interesting article on how smaller cities are making petitions and wearing buttons that don’t support stores being open on Thanksgiving. I wonder how many more years it will take before this bandwagon becomes nationally broadcast. Thanks for your post!

  13. I love that people are actually talking about this! If only it was enough to change every thing back to the way it was just a few years ago. Thats when the balance was right in my mind. I love Thanksgiving and I also love my shopping, but I love them to be separated. Ideally all of Thursday would be devoted to family and feasting, then after you wake up from your food mini coma you brave the crowds at 5 am and get most of your holiday shopping done in one long trip. Now its over lapping and I will never leave my family to go shopping on Thanksgiving, however, being a bargain hunter, cant help but feel as though I am missing out on some great deals… If this trend continues as it has Thanksgiving will not be the same and it will be sad!

    • Alexis,

      Thanks for your comment! I too had fun a few years back when stores opened at 8 AM on Friday morning. In some ways, it marked the change from Thanksgiving and fall to Christmas. However, with all the holidays blended together into a consumer culture nightmare, it is hard to keep traditions and the true holiday spirit alive.

      – Rachel

  14. Rachel,

    This post really caught my attention.I love the term you put in there “thanksgetting”, its a perfect word to describe the new holiday that is being created. It seems that people are no longer concerned with seeing family, but more with seeing deals. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that stores would be opening thanksgiving night. I know me and my family would just be pulling out the games and pies at the times these stores are opening. In my eyes no deal is worth loosing time with my family and friends. I feel so bad for the employees at these stores that are also getting robbed of their holiday and time to spend with family as well. I think this new holiday of “thanksgetting” needs to be shortened back to just a a single day of the week for everyones sake

    • Sarah,

      Did you see that Kmart stores opened at 6 AM on Thanksgiving? I also believe that stores should not be able to open until Friday and workers should be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with their family without the trend of consumer culture getting in their way.

      – Rachel

  15. This was a great post, Rachel! I personally hate how Thanksgiving is loosing the tradition of family time and giving thanks to the things we are thankful for. Instead, “thanksgetting” is now popular. This is a new term to me but I have to say, I am not fond of it. I have never been shopping on Black Friday, nor do I wish to. I understand why people do and that you can score some awesome deals. However, that’s not what the Thanksgiving holiday is for me and my family. Instead of being thankful for what we have, people are just wanting more and more. Although shoppers can save a ton of money, businesses are still making a lot of money. I am a fan of the new “Small Business Saturday” which is a chance for shoppers to support local businesses. This topic is dear to me because I worked at my dad’s small shop during Small Business Saturday. I was so surprised and proud to see so many people supporting small businesses, just like my dad’s store! Hopefully as the awareness spreads about the Saturday after Thanksgiving, people will alter their holiday plans.

    • Winnie,

      Thanks for your comment! I also avoid Black Friday at all costs. Malls are crazy, traffic is insane, and people are on their worst behavior in order to be the first in line for deals that honestly, are not that great. Small Business Saturday is a great way to shop and I’m glad you mentioned it! It seems like smart consumers are moving towards this trend.

      – Rachel

  16. It used to be that I had never even heard of “Black Friday”. Now they’re going as far as calling Thanksgiving “Gray Thursday”. I agree with you that Thanksgiving is now being overshadowed by this new tradition and hunt for great deals. The biggest issue with this is that Thanksgiving is now on the back burner to this event. I also had multiple friends that unfortunately had to leave their Thanksgiving dinners early to go prepare at their retail stores for Black Friday. In fact, my cousin couldn’t make it to our family dinner due to this. The real question though is how do we reel this back? How do we make sure that Thanksgiving doesn’t get lost in the next few years to a holiday devoted to consumerism? It will be interesting to see how this progresses over the next few years!

    • Carly,

      Thanks for your comment! I was also late to my Thanksgiving dinner because I had to work at my restaurant on Thanksgiving. it is a terrible feeling being apart from family and one that I wish more people would realize as Black Friday transitions into “Black/Grey Thursday”. If we don’t ban together and put regulations on big businesses and when they open, Thanksgiving may be engulfed by consumerism within the new few years.

      – Rachel

  17. As someone who has gone Black Friday shopping several times and been there in line to wait to get in, I can honestly say I thought starting it as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving day way ridiculous. Thanksgiving should be time stuffing your faces with delicious food, watching football, and being with family members you only see during holidays. You should appreciate the time you have with them and not worry about the deals Black Friday has to offer you. Also for stores to expects their employees to work on that day is asking for too much. Back when Black Friday started much later I felt bad, because I know they had to get their early and set up. Now they don’t even have to time to have a Thanksgiving dinner. It just seems like Thanksgiving isn’t as important to people these days and it saddens me. I really hope they don’t make the time any earlier than it was this year for the future.

    • Stinili,

      As Black Friday progresses, more and more retail workers are missing out and Thanksgiving seems to be dissolved by consumer culture. How do you think America should combat this change? Thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  18. This article really stuck out to me, especially since this is a topic my family and I discussed over Thanksgiving break, and I’m sure many other households did as well. I’ve heard the term “thanksgetting” on a social media site and it’s really sad to see how much consumer culture is affecting our holiday traditions. I’ve never actually been out to Black Friday shopping before, but I did stop by the mall to visit an old friend in the afternoon, and it was the worst decision. There were people EVERYWHERE swarming all over the stores and pushing past people in a hurry. I would hate to have children in the future and they perceive the holiday season as this mad rush.

    • Mariah,

      With a surplus of goods in our economy, there is no reason for citizens to be swarming around, hunting Black Thursday deals like they do today. We have more than enough to go around to meet the supply and demand for products. I feel as though people simply enjoy the “rush” of a good sale, even if it isn’t a sale at all. Thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  19. The entire concept of “Thanksgiving” has been founded on morals we would not morally approve of today, provided we sat down and really assessed them. Is “Thanksgiving” truly a holiday worth sitting around a table “reminiscing” about; or has the public finally realized it is just a day for corporations to count the cash they have reeled in from shopping prior, while preparing to gain more from the days following? Who is truly benefitting from “Thanksgetting”? I think commercialized holidays are redundant, they take the emotion out of an event with forced feelings of consumerism. In an ideal society we would have frequent breaks to spend time with loved ones, but where does one begin?

    • Garry,

      I think it is clear to see that corporations are gaining and citizens are losing when it comes to “Thanksgetting”. With commercialized holidays such as Black Friday/Thursday and Valentines Day common throughout the year, it’s hard to know what the true meaning of holidays is anymore. Insightful questions, thanks for your post!

      – Rachel

  20. It’s funny, this was the biggest topic of discussion this year at my family Thanksgiving as my new sister-in-law headed off to do some shopping shortly after our meal. Admittedly, not all of my family has been her biggest fan, but I think it stems from not stressing how Important family time is with one another, many families now aren’t as close and with the expansion of the “me generation” younger individuals don’t care and since younger individuals do most of the “wilder” shopping and spending on Black Friday, the stores are really catering to that in hopes of driving sales at the sake of everyone else’s holiday.

    • Carol,

      It was a topic around my dinner table as well! I can see where that would create issues around the important topic of family, which is what Thanksgiving should be about. I love how you pointed out the “me generation” in your comment!

      – Rachel

  21. Rachel,
    I think you are definitely onto something here with “Thanksgetting” and it is definitely worth getting patented haha. I really like how you addressed a topic and called out our society on something that we all like to scrutinize, yet refuse to stop doing. It is so easy to sit here and say how much we all disagree with these practices and yet most of us partake in them! Really liked your article, thought it was extremely well written.

    • Lindsay,

      Thank you for your comment! Although I didn’t come up with “Thanksgetting”, I believe the concept is an all-encompassing one, showing how our society is changing the true meaning of Thanksgiving. While I don’t attend Black Friday/Thursday in stores, I do shop online and often spend (a lot) more money than I intend to! You can say this is consumer culture rubbing off on me as well.

      – Rachel

  22. Great article! It was hard not to be a bit upset with the fact that consumer culture is taking over thanksgiving, and taking away from spending time with family. Do the employees of these stores not deserve to spend time with their loved ones for one day? I thought the term “thanksgetting” was very poignant in describing in one word how much our thinking towards this holiday has changed and been taken over by consumer culture.

    • Carol,

      Thanks for your post! It is crazy how corporations have little regard for employees. I also work on Thanksgiving with a restaurant chain and it amazes me how they have NO regard for family, only for the bottom line and the millions of dollars they are profiting from.

      – Rachel

  23. You really hit the nail on the head with this post. It’s almost comical how ironic Black Friday is- a day for consumerism that directly follows a day reserved for giving thanks. Seeing Black Friday slowly creep closer and closer to Thanksgiving day each year is a little scary. It’s sad to see our culture let consumerism eclipse a beautiful tradition our nation has.

    • Caroline,

      Thanks for your comment! I hope that as a nation we can join together and put a ban on this, as I can only see that the future will move forward and forward until there is no Thanksgiving at all.

      – Rachel

  24. I thought that this was a great blog. This blog post about how “Black Thursday” is becoming more and more popular is very true. I agree that this is happening and that black Thursday may even become more popular then black friday one day. As some people mentioned about it is sad that our culture may be changing a tradition like this.

    • Jake,

      Thanks for your post! With companies like Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and K-Mart opening on Thanksgiving Day, it is clear to see that Black Thursday may be beginning to trump Black Friday. I am hopeful that 2014’s lower rate of shopping shows corporations just how much the public is pushing away from their Thanksgiving traditions being tarnished.

      – Rachel

  25. As much as I regret to admit it, I am usually one of those “crazy people” who goes out on Black Friday to find great deals. In my hometown, I have started to notice that Thanksgiving night people have began to camp out outside stores in order to be the first ones in. I find it ironic that on Thanksgiving Day we are supposed to be thankful of what we have but then in the next few hours we are camping outside stores, pushing down other people and standing in enormous lines, just because we want more and more. I am proud to say that I did not participate in Black Thursday or Black Friday this year, and spent the day with family.

    • Megan,

      Camping out of stores is crazy! I sometimes think people enjoy the “rush” of being the first in line and getting the deals, more than actually liking the item. I notice many times that the items advertised on Black Friday are random and maybe even goods that consumers don’t really want! I’m glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving with your family and thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  26. Black thursday? Wow, I never thought there would be something more scary than Black Friday but this really seals the deal. I’m honestly afraid to go out during the weekend after Thanksgiving. I personally could not go crazy in public over a flat screen tv. It has become a safety issue. People will trample employees even CHILDREN to get discounts.

    • Stephanie,

      I totally agree with the fear factor of Black Thursday. People are crazy and I refuse to go out in public during this time. It even scares me being on the roads. With so many videos of fights and obnoxious behavior during Black Friday, it is easy to see how consumer culture is rearing it’s ugly head. Thanks for your comment!

      – Rachel

  27. I think that you made some very strong points about Black Friday. I especially liked how you pointed out the irony of it all. Rather than enjoying time with family, during the season of giving thanks, American’s would rather trample over one another for that special item they want to bad.

    • Sydney,

      Thanks for your comment! Consumer culture at it’s finest, isn’t it? I hope the post made you see how consumer culture is permeating within the American culture.

      – Rachel

  28. Great article! I thought it was great that you took a look at how “Black Thursday” is impacting consumer culture instead of just rampaging on about how it is ruining the holiday as many writers tend to do. I also like how you added the reason why Thanksgiving was originally celebrated: to remember to be thankful for what we already have. I had not heard the term “thanksgetting” yet but it is an important term that everyone should be aware of.

    • Victoria,

      Thanks for your post! With the commodification of holidays becoming common place, Black Thursday is reinforcing the consumer and their need for things. As a holiday centered on family, Thanksgiving should not be part of this.

      – Rachel

  29. We are forgetting the purpose of the holidays. We need to just stop sometimes and really think what it is all about. Are we truly grateful for who and what we have if we are more worried about getting the best deal on a tv? I applaud companies like Lego that are thankful and show it by giving their employees a true thanksgiving.

    • Carey,

      I believe you are absolutely right. I had not heard about Lego, but I will look into it! I loved how companies like Nordstrom also stood by their employees and gave them a real Thanksgiving. Thanks for your post!

      – Rachel

  30. Really great article! It is so interesting how Thanksgiving has turned into “Thanksgetting” as the article stated. I think it is so unfortunate that Thanksgiving, a day that should be focused on being grateful for what you have and not wanting anything is now all about buying material goods. I do not think that Thanksgiving should be messed with, stores should be closed on Thanksgiving and the hours should not be changed just for greedy consumers.

    • Morgan,

      Thanks for your comment! I believe both the consumers and the corporations are showing greed by being open on Thanksgiving. While the consumers are throwing their money down the drain and showcasing obnoxious behaviors, corporations are staying open and making millions at the sacrifice of their employees.

      – Rachel

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