Getting stupid for Christmas

Story by Martha Landry

I’ve always wondered why it was called Black Friday until my old boss at GNC told me. The reason it’s called Black Friday is because in monthly sales graphs, red represented a negative affect in sales. Black, on the other hand, meant you were flushed with all kinds of cash, better known as “going into the black.”

The unofficial holiday known as Black Friday comes and goes aggressively every year, where there are deals so low that you’d shoot someone over them. Case in point, last year in Madison, a woman was arrested for threatening to shoot someone for cutting in line at Toys ‘R’ Us. I understand that sometimes our inner divas get the best of us, but threatening to pull a piece out and settle things diva to diva is downright silly.

To be fair, I feel that this is all common knowledge. The get-in-the-holiday-spirit, can’t-we-all-just-get-along angle has been presented before. Yet when I read stories about people getting arrested, it screams stupid and unnecessary.

Sales over last year’s Black Friday were only 0.3 percent higher than that of 2009, with the majority of those sales being online, according to, an Internet marketing researching company.

In fact, according to Consumer Report, 66 percent of shoppers are buying stuff for themselves. On top of that, 46 percent of sales are dominated by gift cards, a piece of plastic that’s the same price, found everywhere, and stores never seem to run out of them. In summary, Americans wake up eagerly to funnel into a maze to buy gifts for themselves, but just as they hit the check out they remember to pick up a $15 iTunes gift card for their nephew and call it a day.

I get the idea that finishing your Christmas shopping early lets you breathe, but these statistics show more purchases are being done online and a lot are not gift options. Maybe it’s the procrastinator in me that doesn’t care, but the (insert hot new toy here) will still be there hours before your Christmas Eve party.

Pro shopping tip: You can sometimes get better deals on Christmas Eve. I know this because that’s when I do my shopping, and according to U.S. News and World Report, retailers know this too since the final days leading up to Christmas usually have higher sales numbers than Black Friday, with 2009 being an exception.

I’ve had a family member tell me about their “epic” quests to get this perfect gift for me. It’s like having Frodo as an uncle, and you have to hear every Christmas how he scaled Mount Doom to get the last Clay Matthews jersey from Menards. Thanks for the gift, but the story can stay at the department store where you got it.

I don’t care if you choose to stand in line Friday morning to get an HDTV. Just please don’t ruin someone else’s shopping day, someone who may be shopping for someone else, because you were too far back in line and missed out. There’s always next year, or Amazon.



 Ben Rueter is a senior print journalism major and Copy Editor at The Spectator.