While Thanksgiving signifies a time of togetherness and family, Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring a completely different element of consumerism to the holidays.
Typically beginning in the later hours of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday first referred to an 1869 crash of the gold market. In the late 1980s, however, retailers popularized the term “Black Friday” to mark when retail stores see bigger sales to mark the beginning of the holiday season.
Natalie Bruno, a fourth-year Commerce student and vice president of the Futures in Fashion Association at U.Va., said participation in the Black Friday frenzy is increasing and changing.
“I know that this year retailers started sales as early as Wednesday — Thanksgiving Eve,” Bruno said. “[Black Friday] got pushed up so much and people were not coming into the stores as much — like physical locations — but they’re going online more, so it’s more of a ‘Cyber Week’ than a Black Friday [and] Cyber Monday.”
Students at the University have varied perspectives on Black Friday, especially as many have begun to go out to shop earlier in the day, cutting into Thanksgiving plans. First-year College student Mia Brandon partook in shopping during last year’s Black Friday holiday with her family, but chose to limit her shopping this year.
“I definitely like shopping really late [at] night and waking up really early to go get clothes,” Brandon said. “But now that there’s kind of a limit in space that I have in my dorm room for new clothes … I’m not as motivated to go out and buy a lot of stuff.”
Brandon said she does not believe Black Friday takes away from the meaning of Thanksgiving, but rather views Black Friday as more of a bonus to the holiday.
FIFA President Cassidy Savarino, a fourth-year College student, said when Black Friday commences on or before Thanksgiving Day, it defeats the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but she does see some of the incentives of Black Friday shopping and the positivity Black Friday has inspired.
“I do think that Black Friday helps the economy, does great things for many businesses, for many jobs, and it really is vital for industries,” Savarino said. “I think within the fashion industry, things like Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday, things that have emerged because of Black Friday and the phenomena have been beneficial if anything.”
Savarino also said she noticed an interesting trend this year she hadn’t seen in previous years. In addition to fast fashion companies like Forever 21 and Old Navy, many higher end manufacturers and designers began having Black Friday deals as well.
Despite such deals, many students still choose to stay home due to the chaos of Black Friday. Second-year College student Josh Palmer said he used to go Black Friday shopping frequently but has since stopped. Palmer cited several reasons for his lack of enthusiasm for this part of the holidays, such as the overspending and impulse buying.
“I don’t like discounts during Black Friday because stores will artificially inflate retail prices and then lower them for these sales, so the buyer is losing out,” Palmer said.
Fourth-year Engineering student Maya Singh said she recognizes the fun in going Black Friday shopping with friends and family, but believes it can take away from Thanksgiving in some cases.
“To me personally, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with family primarily, and that’s what I love about Thanksgiving,” Singh said. “And I know a lot of people … who will go Black Friday shopping with their families, so it’s almost like an opportunity to spend more time with their families, but I do understand that Black Friday is a very material-focused holiday or event and could take away from the true meaning of Thanksgiving, which is being thankful for what you already have.”
First-year Nursing student Jessica Alston said she would like to go Black Friday shopping, but is often dissuaded by the overwhelming crowds. Historically, the holiday has had shocking headlines associated with it, such as stampedes, thievery and car accidents.
“I mean, they have some good deals, but the way people be acting is just crazy, so [my family and I] just avoid it,” Alston said. “It’s just too much.”
Palmer said repeated messages like ‘act now’ and ‘limited edition’ degrade the buyer and take focus away from improving product quality and performance.
“Thanksgiving is this one time in the year,” Palmer said. “Especially as U.Va. students, it can be very hard to find time during the year to spend time with family, as I’m learning. Take advantage of the time you have and don’t waste it in angry mobs.”