Students prepare for Black Friday shopping wars
Nicole Tyler waited in a line that stretched around the massive Walmart store, armed with Starbucks coffee and a blueberry muffin. The senior dance major had been waiting since midnight for the chaos of Black Friday to sweep her away.
Chapman students like Tyler are participating in Black Friday, a day of discounted shopping after Thanksgiving. As many stores open before dawn, eager shoppers join the crowds of bargain seekers for the adrenaline rush of finding a discounted item or competing for the best deal, said assistant professor of psychology David Frederick.
“I mean obviously I participate in the Black Friday madness, I have to get Christmas gifts for people,” Tyler said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it is crazy.”
Holiday retail sales are projected to increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this November and December, according to the National Retail Federation. Even last year, the craze was violent enough to injure at least 24 shoppers at nine Walmarts across the nation.
Tyler said hundreds of people began running through the store during her Black Friday outing last year.
“I literally could not move in there. It was nuts,” she said. “Talk about a stampede.”
Sarah Nunez, a sales associate at Gap in Westfield MainPlace mall, said the best strategy for shoppers is to get to stores early. She also said eating a big breakfast is important.
“If you stop to eat throughout the shopping day, you might miss out on sales opportunities,” Nunez said.
Westfield MainPlace mall is opening its doors at midnight, according to its Facebook event. Nunez said Gap is expecting hundreds of shoppers on Black Friday.
“It is usually pretty crazy here on Black Friday,” Nunez said. “The mothers shopping for their kids or husbands seem to be relentless.”
Jenny Bridges, the kids department manager at Nordstrom in Westfield MainPlace mall, said last year things in her store became physical.
“There was an issue where two woman were literally yelling and fighting over a tie, pulling it back and forth,” she said. “It was crazy.”
Frederick said deindividuation is one reason people act the way they do on Black Friday.
Deindividuation is when a single person or people act wrongly or violently because they are less likely to be singled out in a crowd. Frederick also said that crowds naturally increase a shopper’s adrenaline, which can cause conflict and competition.
“Crowds cause deindividuation, and crowds are ever present on Black Friday,” he said.
He said people can also be driven by the idea of wanting to be the one person who gets a rare item or an item on sale.
“That’s why such items are sold at such a discounted price on Black Friday,” Frederick said. “The store wants to literally be able to change your behavior.” Senior public relations and advertising major Morgan Ryan said the bargains make it easy to spend more money than usual.
“Anything with the word sale on it is bound to automatically click on a light bulb in your head, and make you think you’re saving money,” she said. “Thus it’s OK to spend now.”
The key to a surviving the day is self-control and a budget, said professor of business and economics Terence Burnham. She said switching credit cards for cash is the best way to be mindful of unnecessary spending.
“If you need a credit card for some purchases, give it to a good friend when you don’t,” she said. “As they say, friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Good friends also don’t give their friends credit cards on Black Friday.”
Ryan, who works at the shoe store ALDO, said she always asks for Black Friday off from work so she can join the shopping craze. After years of participating, she said she has developed a knack for finding the deals.
“I’m good at finding steals and actually searching through messes for those diamonds in the rough,” she said. “I’m a hustler when it comes to shopping. Living where I do forced me to scrounge in a way, but in the most fashionable way that can be done.”
Senior communication studies major Alex Wood said she doesn’t shop on Black Friday and doesn’t plan to because the deals aren’t worth the fighting and pushing.
“People get hurt and stores run out of what you want really quickly,” Wood said. “If something I want is too expensive, I’ll skip the lines and just look for it on Craigslist instead.”
Junior public relations and advertising major Amy Williams will put down her shopping bags this year in exchange for working Black Friday. She will be on the sales floor of Brandy Melville, a clothing store, in San Francisco.
“My boss is already going nuts about it, but we don’t really have any plans for how to control crowds,” she said. “I know I’m just going to be drinking a whole lot of coffee because we open at midnight.”