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.
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.”
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.”
– Rachel White