Black Friday: Who Are the Greedy Ones

black friday

When it comes to “Black Friday” shopping, who really are the greedy ones? Is it the retailers who open or the shoppers who wait in line for hours to shop?

Many retailers will open Thanksgiving Day this year and there has been a hue and cry on how greedy these retailers must be to do such a terrible thing. We ask the question, who are the greedy ones? Is it the retailers or is it the consumers?

First retailers began to open earlier and earlier on the day after the holiday, dubbed “Black Friday” so named because this is the day retailers supposedly make a profit for the year, especially if they have been in the red. This claim can be disputed by some since theoretically they are selling their products either at cost or below cost. But this is not the place to discuss retail strategy, instead we question, if it isn’t really the consumers who are the greedy ones.

Simple business economics would suggest it just may be the consumers, after all if they didn’t shop, the stores wouldn’t open. As we mentioned above many believe the retailers are selling everything either at a breakeven price or below cost and hence lose money. If this is true, they are losing money by unlocking the doors. Since retailers, or any business large or small can’t stay in business if it doesn’t make a profit, this wouldn’t make sense and they would be better off not opening at all. By the time they pay the employees, the utilities, the taxes and all other costs it is a losing proposition. While we aren’t certain they are selling items below cost, if they are not making enough to cover these costs they are better off remaining closed.

But they don’t. Why not? Because people continue to shop on both ”Black Friday” and Thansgiving. Each year we here about protests and strikes against these retailers who open yet they have no effect as people continue to flock to the stores. A recent opinion piece in the LA Times headlined “To the greedy retailers ruining workers’ Thanksgiving: It’s gonna cost you” clearly blames the retailers. The piece brings up how this will be a blessing to the unions who can use this to get higher wages and to protest how their members are forced to work on the holidays. This is certainly true but we have to wonder how many of their union members will be standing in those long lines on Thanksgiving morning and night waiting to get their hands on the oversized flat screen television they really, really have to have.

The same piece goes on to say that Wal-Mart and others like them are ruining the holidays for millions of workers throughout the US, by paying them low wages and then translates this into workers obviously must be treated unfairly the rest of the year as well. Again we say that the millions of workers who are not working on the holiday don’t have to shop. We don’t hear the union’s hue and cry against their members who are part of the problem and shopping do we?

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) it is estimated 33 million people will shop on Thanksgiving Day, if even half of this number boycotted shopping it is pretty certain retailers would make a decision not to open. Perhaps the unions could send out members to conduct a survey to find out just exactly who is doing the shopping. How many of their poor workers who aren’t working are helping to keep the retailers open and taking advantage of their union brothers and sisters? We aren’t expecting to see any such survey.

Yes, it is true that retailers might be greedy, but to paraphrase a line from an old movie “If you open they will come. If you shop they will open.” When we see who the greedy ones are on “Black Friday”, when the people continue to line up and shop, the retailers will continue to open.

Commentary by Paul Roy


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LA Times

National Retail Federation


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