Black Friday is known across the country as the day people line up at 3 am at their favorite stores to get the best deals on holiday items. But is this kind of shopping ethical? On one hand, getting a good deal on your gifts for others seems harmless, but the tradition of buying the most items you possibly can, no matter what, as long as prices are low, is not innocent. Black Friday encourages quick purchases, grabbing a good deal whether you need the item or not. Be honest with yourself, how many times have you bought something at a Black Friday sale simply because it was such a low price? If it hadn’t been 75% off, would it still have been worth it to you? The allure of a good deal outweighs our better judgment about what we need and decreases our appreciation for what we have. Even though we might be proud of the bargain, the lower price tag often lowers our impression of how valuable the item is. If you are buying something on Black Friday, it should be something you were willing to pay full price for and happened to find a deal on, not an item you happened to find at a discount and bought for that reason. When you pay a higher price for your clothes or electronics, you’ve invested in them. You are more likely to take care of them and extend their use because you want to get your money’s worth.
Another aspect of Black Friday is the way it illuminates our broken production system. How is it that companies can take off 50%, 60%, or even 70% off the price of their products and still make a profit? It only goes to show that most products are very cheap to produce, at the cost of the environment and of the workers who made them. Sure, the sales are a strategy to try to get you to buy more once you’ve bought a sale item, but there is still a minimum which a company must receive to cover production costs, and these outrageous sales prove that minimum is very low.
It is also important to point out the ironic timing of Black Friday. Only the day before we give thanks for what we have, and acknowledge the importance of family over material things. Then the next, we rush to the biggest retailers to buy as many things as we can for as little money as we can manage. Seem strange?
Is Black Friday worth it? Does it hold up a mirror to the ugly face of corporate America? Does it cancel out all the good of the Thanksgiving weekend? I believe the more important question is: is it something we want? When we reflect on our purchases, did they make us happy? Is there any guilt, regret, or feeling of compulsion around our choices? Is it what we really want?
By Veronika Souzek