Black Friday: Capitalist holiday or day of protest?


Money02-bw-crop-sm72-300x217by Pamela Powers Hannley

Thanks to the tradition of giving salaried workers the Friday after Thanksgiving off as a vacation day + the availability of cheap credit + big sales and thousands of dollars in advertising, that Friday became the biggest US shopping day of the year decades ago.

Christmas season is a major money-maker in our capitalist society. In the cut-throat world of retail sales, Black Friday was the day that many retailers broke even– the day that wild sales brought frenzied consumers into the stores to buy Christmas presents a month early– the day their books moved "into the black". 

As a protest against this rabid consumerism and the commercialization of Thanksgiving and Christmas–- economic protesters re-invented the concept of Black Friday several years ago and promoted it as a day to stay home from the stores and not “shop ’til you drop”.

What is the true meaning of Black Friday today? Find out after the jump.

Capitalists large and small don't like the idea of consumers staying home on "traditional" shopping holidays. That's why the buy local movement has tried to co-opt the old Black Friday protest against all shopping and turn it into a protest against shopping at multi-national chain stores that sell cheap Chinese imports– like Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Home Depot. (Although I support the buy-local movement, I often wonder if small-time, local capitalists are any better than big-time capitalists in terms of workers' rights, benefits, and wages.)

Black-friday-1In the latest Black Friday twist, multi-national chain stores have successfully buried the shopping protest movement and adopted the Black Friday label as their own. Black Friday sales are everywhere— in the stores and on retail websites.

Heavy sigh.

This year, I say: let’s recapture the true meaning of Black Friday as a day of protest against over-the-top consumerism. Nationwide chain stores push cheap crap imports upon us and exploit workers at home and in other countries. If you feel the desire to push away from the Thanksgiving table to got stand in line for sales at Walmart– don't do it! 

And if you really want to shop on Friday, buy locally made goods (not cheap crap imports) from local retailers, artists, and crafters.