an introduction to black friday (1/8)

It’s the most joyous time of the year: the holiday season. For some, it’s all about enjoying beautiful moments with their loved ones, for the majority of the population, as the Minimalists point out, it’s the holiday “shopping” season. 

For the uninitiated, the last Friday of the month of November, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year in the US and it’s called Black Friday. 

The day after Thanksgiving is generally perceived as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Many stores offer highly promoted sales on Black Friday and open very early, such as at midnight, or may even start their sales at some time on Thanksgiving. A majority of schools and organizations (not counting the retail companies) have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 164 million consumers plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend. And 71% of those shoppers — that’s a good 116 million — will do that shopping on Black Friday.

However, Black Friday is not only famous for exclusive offers; it’s also well known for the mad rush of frenzied shoppers who are lured by enticing doorbuster deals. On top of that, in their hunt for bargains and deals, many otherwise civil people find themselves pushing and shoving fellow shoppers over coveted merchandise. And in the worst cases, shoppers and employees have been hurt and even killed in stampedes to get to cheap televisions, video game consoles and laptops. These are not the actions of rational individuals, and it’s sad that we have downgraded ourselves to fight with people and harm them over things that we don’t even need.

Read next: a brief history of black friday (2/8)