Color Coded Shopping Days Put Retailers in the Black


Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Like many other Americans, bargain-seekers abandon their Thanksgiving tables to battle long lines at Macy’s in Costa Mesa, Calif., last year on Black Friday morning.

It is the department store catalogs, grocery store decorations and the arrival of the Santa Claus float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that excites young Americans and ushers in the Christmas season.

While Tom Turkey begins the parade, Santa Claus’ arrival signifies the unofficial start of the holiday period. The retailer claims three million people are in attendance while 50 million Americans tune into NBC to enjoy the festivities.

According to, the parade is “an irreplaceable staple of Thanksgiving festivities,” with Americans gathering “around their television sets to watch the parade from home.”

However, when the parade is over, the majority of those 50 million Americans have to prepare for the Christmas shopping season. This season means one of two things: standing in line for hours waiting for stores to open on Black Friday, or having to hear everyone making a fuss about standing in line for hours waiting for stores to open on Black Friday.

Somehow, the loss of Christmas magic is synonymous with growing up and the magic is replaced with shopping.

For many Americans, the Thanksgiving turkey is sandwiched between parades and football in the morning and Christmas shopping at night. While Black Friday once started the morning after Thanksgiving, it has now creeped in earlier and earlier. With Black Friday deals being offered on what it now Grey Thursday, the line between Thanksgiving and Black Friday is almost non-existent.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Toys R Us Chief Merchandising Officer Richard Barry says the customers and the company benefits when the store opens on Grey Thursday.

“We saw that people really enjoyed the early opening, and frankly we saw the sales on Black Friday itself being very strong,” Barry says. “There wasn’t as much pressure on that 10 p.m. or midnight time. It was more spread out and people had a more civilized shopping experience.”

While companies do enjoy profits gleaned by Black Friday sales and some customers are pleased with their savings, other customers do not find the money saved outweighs the madness of the crowds.

Meanwhile, like other Americans, students at San Jacinto College participate in the cultural experience, but some students, including Central campus student Jason Guidry, say Black Friday is “not worth it.”

Fellow San Jac student, Jeff Hallinan, reiterates the sentiment saying his worst Black Friday experience involved poor weather conditions, maddening crowds, and lines which never seemed to end.

“[I was] standing outside, starting at 10 at night at Best Buy, waiting on the Wii. I was fourth in line and it begins to mist rain,” Hallinan says.

In addition to the unfavorable climate, Hallinan says the Best Buy staff tried calming the crowd by issuing the first group of people tickets for a single item. Hallinan says each person got his or her own ticket and the ticket was good toward a television, a laptop, or a gaming system.

However, once the employees opened the doors, the masses rushed inside despite the tickets.

“Soon as they open the doors, it reminded me of a bomb threat and everyone had to get out, except everyone was trying to get it,” Hallinan says. “People were getting trampled on to get to the pallets in the back. For the last three things on the pallet, you can see people eyeing each other.”

Besides the mass hysteria in the back of the store, Hallinan says paying and getting out, was another story. There were two lines: one for cash and one for credit cards. He says that the cash line “took another three hours,” but it was going twice as fast as the credit card queue.

Even though Hallinan received the Wii he waited several hours for, he says the experience has forever darkened his views on Black Friday sales.

“Never again will I wait in line,” Hallinan adds.

While Black Friday and Grey Thursday offers customers savings and deals on big-ticket items, for many Americans, including Guidry and Hallinan, the hassle does not outweigh the money saved. However, these saving days and their counterpart, Cyber Monday, do establish the start of the Christmas season.

White Christmas is a term for a holiday that emphasizes the bond between people. Black Friday, however, highlights Americans’ relationship with money and savings. These two aspects come together on Thanksgiving night to create Grey Thursday. This is the night where the Christmas season, both the joy and the financial parts, really starts.