Why do we love to shop?
I know that we buy things we budget for and things we need – food, clothing, transportation, shelter, climate control, and sometimes we buy things to replace items we’ve worn out or outgrown. Sometimes we buy things we want (electronics, boats, new furniture, etc) and that’s okay so long as our decision is made with an idea of where the money is coming from and it isn’t from high interest debt.
But in some people, shopping causes an increase in dopamine which causes you to feel happy for a short time. And after a hard day at work, or a long day at home with the kids, shopping is your personal reward for the stress and overwhelming circumstances you’ve been through. You really believe that those new shoes or that new iPhone will make your life better. Those shoes make you feel glamorous and that iPhone makes you feel important and part of the “in” crowd. Shopping satisfies our urge to socialize. Plus you love the attention salespeople give you and the way they complement your choices as they really build your ego.
Does the average American who used to be satisfied with keeping up with, let’s say, the Joneses down the street in their own neighborhood, now feel they must keep up with the rich and famous seen on TV. I believe this to be true as people love to buy new clothes and wearing fun outfits that are inspired by celebrities and magazines. And this gets me back to the whole Black Friday thing. First, a little history. Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving and has earned the reputation of being the busiest shopping day of the year. The name was adopted from an accounting term – red ink denotes a negative profit margin, where as “in the black” denotes a positive profit margin. Many retailers make or break their sales goals between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the season kicking off on the Friday after Thanksgiving, hence the name “Black Friday.”
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00, but in the late 2000s, many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) will open at midnight for the first time, forcing employees to either go without enough sleep or miss all or part of Thanksgiving with family. Walmart will open at 10:00 on Thanksgiving night and Toys ‘R’ Us at 9:00.
Black Friday is popular as a shopping day for a combination of several reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas it inaugurates the Christmas season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of Thanksgiving leave, increasing the potential number of shoppers. In order to take advantage of this, virtually all retailers in the country, big and small, offer various sales. Recent years have seen retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge, or to simply keep up with competition.
I am so very thankful for my ability to recognize the importance of gratitude in everyday life. And by being grateful, I want to show my appreciation to others. So, my urgent plea would be when you’re shopping, especially on Black Friday, be kind to others, but especially to the workers. Let’s show them that we’re thankful they chose to work.