Reason to balk at Black Friday

Nasty incidents during manic shopping events do not define us all.

The Christmas shopping season is underway, marked, or marred if you will, by the ugliness that is Black Friday.

Already, the Inter-web is atwitter with news and video clips of the choice fights this year’s shopping event. It would seem the brawls – punctuated by the occasional shooting/stabbing – over everything from flat-screen TVs to vegetable steamers, are part and parcel of the Black Friday consumer frenzy. According to the website blackfridaydeathcount.com (yes, it exists), seven people have been killed and 28 injured between 2010 and 2014 in relation to Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday is so named so as it’s supposedly the day U.S. retailers start to see financial gains – going from red into the black.

Despite attempts by some, Canadian retailers have generally been unable to emulate the madness of Black Friday. Even in the U.S., retailers are said to be moving away from the one-day sales event model due to related costs for things like security and additional staffing. In addition, more people, Canadians included, are being swayed by the convenience of online shopping. Yes, it’s difficult to try things out or on this way, but there’s also no need to wait in long lineups and little risk of being injured.

While it’s easy to become angry/frustrated/disappointed when watching a Black Friday video in which grown adults are fighting over something as mundane as a vegetable steamer or waffle iron, regardless of how deeply discounted the item may be, it’s important to remember these incidents do not serve as generalizations defining who or what we are (as Canadians or Americans) or have become. For many, Black Friday is the domain of an alien culture, an ephemeral distraction from the many more rewarding and/or important things to do and be involved in at this time of year in our own communities. School Christmas concerts, drives to support local food banks and shelters, spending time with the family and friends – these are the events that matter. Cursing under your breath at the wait ahead before it’s your turn at the cashier – not so much.