Black Friday: Consumer empowerment or mind control? FRIDAY starts eary at a Target store. Photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons.Welcome to Black Friday!
Today is the unofficial holiday celebrating mass consumption and purchasing frenzy. Starting in the 1960s, retailers have used the day after Thanksgiving to kick off the shopping season, offering early hours, deals, and discounts. This is the time when retailers hope to get into profitability—hence the term “black,” as in the accountant’s black ink. At times, the huge retail crowds have resulted in injury and even death, as we discussed two years ago.

What’s different this year? Timing.
Many big retailers around the country opened their doors before midnight today, so turkey-stuffed shoppers didn’t even need to go to bed before this Black Friday began. Many online retailers started offering Black Friday deals yesterday on Thanksgiving itself.

I’ve heard some say that starting Black Friday earlier and earlier is a form of consumer empowerment. Now, cash-strapped consumers have more opportunities to get more bang for the buck. Another view is more cynical, arguing that it’s just the latest creative attempt by big-box retailers to manipulate our desires and get us to spend more than we should.

Did you go shopping today?

Do you think the earliest start ever to Black Friday is a good of bad thing?


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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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