In the last few years, the big arguments have been over the secularization of Christmas and the pushing of religious holiday symbols out of the public sphere. This year, they’ve been about how Black Friday is sneaking into Thanksgiving Thursday. Many major chains opened in the afternoon or evening, and millions of Americans went in search of bargains instead of heading for the couch to sleep off that turkey dinner.
“Frankly, I can’t imagine what you could buy on Thanksgiving that would make the trade-off worth it to our culture,” advised Katrina Trinko of National Review. But Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie is surprised at the vehemence of such pushback: “Just as you can’t have Thanksgiving without a meal that fully no one actually enjoys … you can’t have a functioning free-market economy without massive amounts of shopping.”
Actually, Black Friday is moving to Thursday because it has become much more important to the retailers than it is to consumers. Holiday shopping accounts for up to 40 percent of some stores’ total annual sales. But shoppers now have many more options, including getting bargains online very day of the year. Why throw yourself into the thundering hordes just to save a few bucks when you can accomplish the same thing from the comfort of home and collect your bargains at your own front door?
And what real harm is actually done to the culture? Most of those watchable-like-a-train-wreck brawls among desperate bargain hunters are moved up a day, that’s all.