YOUNG VOICES: Stop forsaking family time to save a buck

2013-12-30T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Stop forsaking family time to save a buckBy Sofia Grimsgard
December 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Many gobbled down turkey this past Thanksgiving, but the holiday sales took priority and left many shoppers to save the pumpkin pie for later.

Black Friday sales skyrocketing, traffic increasing notably, and less family time seem to becoming the norm. Shopping is becoming particularly significant during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Instead of focusing on what holidays are meant to be, it sheds light on how our country is becoming greedier and greedier.

First, having Black Friday sales begin on Thanksgiving Day takes away from family time. According to the National Retail Foundation, not only did traffic grow 27 percent, but more than one-quarter of holiday shoppers were in stores by 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

The Toys R Us in Manhattan opened its doors at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, while K-Mart welcomed shoppers as early as 6 a.m.

What can be concluded from this research? Families have to part early because of early work commitments on one of the most family oriented holidays of the year. The makers of the cheapest sales items in countries such as Taiwan and China are boasting at the cheap moneymaking sales, while we leave our families to save a buck.

Resisting competitive pressure to open on Thanksgiving came without regrets for Menards, Costco, Nordstrom and Bed, Bath & Beyond, just to name a few. They decided to start their Black Friday sales on Friday as usual, allowing their employees to spend Thanksgiving Day with their families.

I believe starting Black Friday earlier proves our nation is indeed becoming increasingly greedier each year. Wal-Mart had a total of 20 million shoppers and 10 million transactions between 6 and 10 p.m. just on Thanksgiving Day, a significant increase from the past few years. And, according to the National Retail Foundation, holiday sales are still expected to increase 3.9 percent to $602 billion.

I really started to think about the hype of Black Friday the week before Thanksgiving when I met with middle school students I mentor.

One of them seemed a bit withdrawn during our planned discussion on everyone’s least favorite part of the holidays. She told us it was the first time her mother wouldn’t be with the family because her retail employer decided to open its doors on Thanksgiving morning and she was on the schedule all day.

It made me wonder whether Thanksgiving will become known as the start of the holiday shopping season instead of a special day for Americans to gather with their families to share time and give thanks for each other and for all they have.

So what is the point of the holiday season? Whether it is family time, religious celebration, or family traditions, why has shopping taken the spotlight? Can’t we just rewind to a decade or two ago when the holiday season was focused more on the actual meaning of the holiday and a lot less on shopping and gifts?

Sofia Grimsgard, of Valparaiso, is a junior at Valparaiso High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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