I remember once seeing a Black Friday ad and thinking that I discovered the real reason why they called it “Black” Friday: the stores open at 6am for crying out loud! A close friend of mine would tell me about her Black Friday shopping and how chaotic and messy it would be even at the crack of dawn.
But I was even more intrigued by the pattern I began noticing every year: stores competing with each other to open earlier and earlier. Stores began opening at 5 am (fajr time) to 4 am (tahajjud) to even 2 or 3 am (qiyam ul-layl anyone?). Last year we finally hit the first hour of Thanksgiving Friday, 12 am, and we all thought, “Well, that’s the end of it!”.
Until of course we got news of Walmart and Target opening this year at 8pm and 9pm respectively on Thursday of Thanksgiving.
This recent trend of earlier opening hours, now termed the “Thanksgiving Creep”, should make all of us reflect on what this says about our values and priorities. As Thanksgiving Creep cuts its way through family dinners and gatherings, Thanksgiving no longer becomes about giving “thanks” or spending time with loved ones, it becomes first about hunting for the best deals of the holiday sales.
Not only do these early Thanksgiving night openings entice people away from their cozy homes but they also force store employees into an uncomfortable position. I first became aware of Target’s and Walmart’s new hours through a Change.org petition by a Target employee who wants to save her Thanksgiving day for what she really values: her family.
Black Friday can only thrive if people are convinced that even if they do not need to purchase any items, they must not miss out on this opportunity to splurge for low prices. It can be tempting to think about what marked-down products we could get our hands on if we went to the stores this day. But we can easily overcome this temptation by just taking a look around us, at our family and loved ones gathered on this holiday, and say, “I already have everything that matters”.
Update: Sign the pledge to choose family over frenzy here.