Huge, arbitrary markdowns!

Zach Brown – Opinion Editor |

The campfires of the Black Friday 2012 still smolder in mall parking lots.  The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that about 247 million Americans shopped either in-store or online over this past weekend.  That’s almost 80 percent of the population gorging itself in consumerist celebration.

But why now?  Yes, the day after Thanksgiving marks the “beginning of the Christmas Holiday Shopping Season,” but that is only because of its relative proximity to Christmas the Holidays.

Black Friday is arbitrary. reports that prices on the 15 most popular toys are usually cheapest in the two weeks before Christmas December 25.  Those big, brand-name HDTVs?  They are cheapest in January or February.  And Christmas Holiday decorations?  Those are obviously cheaper after the season has past.

Though it may have its roots in Thanksgiving Day parades sponsored by retailers, Black Friday is, in essence, an agreement between consumer and corporation.

The consumers agree to spend their money ($59 billion in 2012, says NRF)on the day after Thanksgiving.  Corporations agree to offer sales and entice consumers on that day.  Without one, the other would not be able to get deals or make money.

But the day is arbitrary.  October 3 is relatively close to Christmas the Holiday season.  Why not have that day be the biggest shopping day of the year?  If consumers and corporations agree, then it could be.

So even though the day is arbitrarily assigned, it has meaning…and a meaning worth a lot of money.

Then again, the day consumers are buying things for is largely arbitrary, as well.  Nothing like stealing a pagan holiday in order to make your religion better.

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