Black Friday is evolving into more than just one day of chaos

Kettering+resident+Jackie+Peckham+leaves+Menard%27s+superstore+after+buying+groceries+before+the+holidays.+

Photo: Brittany Peckham

Kettering resident Jackie Peckham leaves Menard's superstore after buying groceries before the holidays.

When people think of November, elections, the end of high school football, plump turkeys and Grandma’s homemade pie come to mind. But in recent years, many people also think about hopping in the car and rushing out to join the havoc at stores to get good deals.

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — began in the late 19th century, but it wasn’t popularly known by that name until the past two decades. The “black” in Black Friday refers to the color of ink used to indicate a profit back when records were kept by hand. (Red ink, of course, indicated a loss.)

In fact, Black Friday is now the busiest shopping day of the year, and experts say many retailers make 20 to 40 percent of their annual profit on that single day. While some people avoid the chaos of Black Friday like the Black Plague, others look forward to the big day

Maria Campanella, a Fairmont senior, loves saving on Black Friday.

“I see it as a good thing for people to find deals on Christmas gifts and such,” she said. But she said she recognizes the downside, too. “It can also be a bad thing since it takes away from what we should be focusing on, which is Thanksgiving.”

Kettering resident Judy Nichols is firm about her feelings regarding the big shopping day. “Honestly, I’m not a fan of Black Friday very much. It’s nice to save on regularly high-priced items, but there’s too many risks of violence and thievery that goes on,” she said.

Stacy Jenkins, a Kettering resident who used to work at Walmart, says she’s worked during Black Friday a few times. Now, she prefers to stay away from the madness, sit at home in her pajamas and drink her coffee.

“There’s just way too much chaos in one day,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Jenkins recalls her first experience working on Black Friday.

“I remember as soon as 5 a.m. hit and the doors opened, the customers ran to their designated areas of interest and started tearing things open. It was the funniest thing I’d seen in a long while,” she said. “It was like I was watching a scene in a movie with a bunch of ravenous vultures going at their prey. There were also a few fights over some items that had a limited number, but nobody got hurt, thankfully.”

This year, some of those chaotic scenes are likely to occur a day earlier since an increasing number of retailers are set to open on Thanksgiving Day. For example, Kmart will open at 6 a.m., Bass Pro Shops at 8 a.m., and Gander Mountain will throw its doors open at 9 a.m. Michael’s, Old Navy and hhgregg are waiting until 4 p.m., followed at 5 p.m. by JCPenney, Toys R Us, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods. At 6 p.m., several other big retailers will open, including Walmart, Elder-Beerman, Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s, Target and Staples.

According to ShopperTrak, shopper traffic in physical stores on Thanksgiving Day 2013 reached 1.07 billion store visits, a 2.8 percent increase over Thanksgiving Day 2012.

The notion of shopping on Thanksgiving Day delights some, and dismays others.

Campanella doesn’t think this pre-mania day should happen. “I like going out early on Friday morning for the experience, but I don’t think taking time away from family bonding and festivities on Thursday is a good thing,” she said.

Nichols doesn’t like the idea of Black Thursday either.

“Family and being thankful is what should be focused on, not saving a couple bucks off of something,” she said.

CNN Money says that $12.3 billion was spent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2013 — up 2.3 percent from 2012. The shopping continues to grow year by year. But does that make the violence increase as well?

Campanella doesn’t fear the violence. “I just hate waiting in the long lines. The fights don’t scare me because I would never go that hard just for something I could probably live without. I like going to stores and seeing what deals they have, though.”

Annie Kuzma, a Kettering resident, is ambivalent about Black Friday, but she’s not crazy about the shopping madness encroaching on Thanksgiving Day.

“If people want to go out on Black Friday, it’s fine with me as long as they are humane about it,” she said. “But making people work instead of spending time with their loved ones on Thursday is just wrong in my opinion.”

Nichols says she worries about the holiday shopping trends in upcoming years. “Hopefully this won’t become a weekly spree.”

You can find out what stores are participating in Black Friday as well as which ones are opening up early at www.blackfriday.com.