The day is Thanksgiving. The time is 11:50 p.m.
You’re wearing jeans, a short sleeved shirt and flip-flops, appropriate attire for a November night in North Florida. In your pockets are a shopping list, a smartphone and a credit card ready to be maxed out.
A few minutes later, you regret eating that fifth serving of pumpkin pie.
The clock hits midnight.
At that moment, you proceed to amazon.com, purchasing your holiday presents for family and friends at deeply discounted prices within 10 minutes.
After giving Amazon and your credit card issuer a huge smile, you walk from your computer to your bed with an even bigger smile, knowing you avoided stampeding customers at retail stores’ busiest shopping day, Black Friday.
WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY?
The day after Thanksgiving is the retail industry’s start to the holiday shopping season. Stores temporarily mark down the prices of items such as televisions, apparel and toys for a day to attract a large number of customers.
The name Black Friday may refer to retail stores gaining profit, or being “in the black,” after a long period of losing money, or being “in the red,” from January through November.
Stores open anytime from midnight to 5 a.m., earlier than normal operating hours. Shoppers line up hours before stores open. Sometimes, customers camp outside the store entrance days in advance in hopes of getting a big box item for a low price offered just once a year.
This year, certain stores will be opening at an earlier time. Wal-Mart will begin its sale at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving day, while Target will open its doors at midnight for the first time.
Kyle Russel, a UNF biology senior who works at Target in Mandarin, said earlier Black Friday opening times may just be a trend.
“I think [early opening times] won’t stick,” Russel said. “People are going to be out late with their families for Thanksgiving, so opening at midnight is a little excessive.”
A HISTORY OF (RETAIL) VIOLENCE
In the last few years, shopper safety has become a concern after numerous Black Friday incidents across the nation left people injured, or worse, dead.
In 2010, Target shoppers in Buffalo, N.Y. stampeded through the entrance and trampled over a shopper who fell to the ground. The victim did not die, but may have suffered injuries due to his previously inflicted herniated disc.
Buffalo news station WIVB recorded the incident on video. Within the first 20 seconds, audible screams could be heard and the stream of incoming shoppers slowed down. A minute later, a man grimaces in pain in front of the camera while another person is helped off the floor in the background.
Alyssa Fraser, a guest services team member at the Mandarin Target, said she worked on Black Friday for three years and there has never been an incident at the store.
“The store operates in an organized way,” Fraser said. “When people are lined up in the morning, we keep them in a single file line, and we give them maps. No one gets trampled on.”
HOW TO SURVIVE BLACK FRIDAY
I don’t recommend shopping in a brick and mortar store on Black Friday. But if you insist on having the experience, take this advice:
Do your research online.
– Do not wait for the Thanksgiving edition of the local paper to view stores’ flyers. Websites such as bfads.net and blackfriday.info obtain flyer information weeks in advance through anonymous insiders. The same items appear in most flyers. Have the mentality of a smart business person looking for the lowest bidder.
Start making a shopping list.
– One pitfall shoppers fall into is compulsive buying. An easy solution is making a shopping list sorted by the item’s anticipated demand and the order of the stores you will go to. Adhere to the shopping list at all costs.
Leave hours in advance.
– As mentioned earlier, shoppers tend to line up in front the store as far as several days in advance. Fraser said to get in line at least three hours in advance to get the items you want.
Buy the items quickly and calmly.
– As a five-year Black Friday veteran, I have learned to avoid looking rival shoppers in the eye. Believe me, that shopper eyeing you thinks you want the same exact items they want. You will be trapped in a maze of shopping carts and angry shoppers if you take your time.
Go home and sleep.
– I guarantee your body and mind will be tired by the time your cart reaches the checkout line. When you arrive back home, you will probably fall asleep on your shopping bags and spend the rest of the day passed out. When you wake up, you’ll remember to shop online in the future.