Monday, December 1, 2008

Black Friday

Every year my family and I head out somewhere around 4AM and begin our shopping spree on Black Friday. Yes, it's always crazy but it has kind of become a family tradition. Nevertheless, I'll never be as pyscho as the people who decide to spend their entire Thanksgiving days in a tent and freeze throughout the night in order to get the best deals. I will, though, commit my mornings to shopping and finding some pretty good prices.

This year was different for me, however. I'm a poor college student and even though my family still went out shopping I decided not to partake in the activities this season because my wallet is empty. Anyway, I always find it interesting that each and every year someone, somewhere always seems to get hurt. This season two people are dead in a Black Friday shooting at a crowded Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, California. According to one woman, Sarah Pacia of Cathedral City told The Desert Sun newspaper she was in the store with her two boys, ages 4 and 6, looking at coloring books when she heard a commotion in the next aisle. She thought it was people rushing to get a sale item. Then she heard three or four shots.

I can't imagine who would carry a gun into a store! But this wasn't even the worst story on Black Friday (in my opinion). Walmart once again had troubles this year, as q worker at a Wal-Mart in New York City’s Long Island suburbs was killed when a crowd of shoppers stampeded for Black Friday bargains, knocking him down and trampling him to death. I cant imagine this happening! Most likely there will be a lawsuit against the company as it seems something could have been done to prevent this tragedy.

Anyway, on the brighter side of things Black Friday seemed to be a positive event for retailers nationwide, even in the midst of our struggling economy. According to the National Retail Federation's 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 147 million shoppers last year. Furthermore, Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 this weekend*, up 7.2 percent over last year’s $347.55. Total spending reached an estimated $41.0 billion.

"Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season’s hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. "Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again."

I honestly didn't really expect this. I expected total spending to be lower - and if anything - about equal to last years. Not better! This just furthers my notion that our consumers still don't know what they're doing with their money and they'll still spend even if they don't have. Our consumers need to learn how to cut back and not put everything on plastic! Seriously, with unemployment rates skyrocketing and the credit can we beat numbers from last year!?!?!?!?! Good for retailers and our economy as a whole???!?!?!? Maybe, but I believe most people are just putting themselves into a deeper hole with more debt!

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