Black Friday begins the mad flurry of shoppers shopping for the holidays and taking advantage of retail sales. Stores and malls open earlier and earlier, and shoppers flock in droves to go buy stuff. There have been reports of violence and mob scenes, deaths and injuries, as shoppers shove and fight to get their hands on the things they want. Some retailers are even opening their stores on the evening of Thanksgiving, creating an earlier shopping opportunity called Gray Thursday. Then we have Small Business Saturday, a valiant effort to encourage us to do more shopping in support of small businesses, and come Cyber Monday, we can all stay home and shop for deals online.
Sometimes and often, we shoppers buy stuff just because we think we are getting a bargain. Honestly, who can pass up a 50% off sale? I am certain most of us have rationalized the purchase of a bargain, whether needed or not, by telling ourselves, “I’m sure I can use this thing.” I know I have. I’ve come to believe that it’s important to be mindful about the difference between need and want, to pause before making a purchase and ask, “Is this thing really necessary?”
A fair amount of effort goes into analyzing and speculating about the results of Black Friday sales. If it is true that sales are down by about $7 billion this year – that’s 11% less than last year – I wonder if this is because we are becoming more mindful about our spending and about what we are buying. I really hope so. We are expected to consume in order to bring our society to economic health. I want our economy to be healthy, but I’m not convinced that we need to buy, buy, buy in order to achieve this goal. The more we buy, it seems to me, the more we have to store and the more we are willing to waste.
Today is Giving Tuesday. I like this concept – a day dedicated to giving. This day came to life as a direct response to the commercialization and consumerism that takes place during the post-Thanksgiving Day season. I wonder if we will spend as much time, energy and effort analyzing the giving data as we do in crunching numbers reported on sales. Maybe this is an impossible set of data to measure, though. How does one measure giving? Maybe it’s as simple as this: the more we give, the better we get.