James Bowen is a junior journalism major and Cyber Monday shopper.
The glass doors are the ring, the customers are the bull and the employees pointing to the 50% off signs are the bullfighters waving their red flags. But instead of getting impaled by horns — it’s the heels of a stampede of customers that will deliver the killer blow — literally. Yet without fail, people will inexplicably be waiting outside of stores, like Walmart and Best Buy, every Black Friday to land a deal on the latest products.
The “last one standing” mentality is a survival tactic which shoppers will use to get their hands on a limited supply of electronics, jewelry and other heavily-discounted items. The high demand for these items will most likely cause hysteria among shoppers, leading to physical confrontations, vandalism, shoplifting and the worst-case scenario — death.
There have been 12 casualties and 117 injuries and counting associated with Black Friday since 2008. One of these instances included when a Long Island Walmart employee was trampled by 2,000 shoppers waiting outside the doors. While several deaths are attributable to parking lot brawls and vehicular manslaughter, shoppers have even used pepper spray. In 2011, a woman from California maced people in an act of “competitive shopping” to get her son an Xbox. “This was consumer-versus-customer ‘shopping rage,’” Abel Parga, an LAPD officer, said.
A study led by a group of Harvard and Uppsala researchers went into depth about how severe Black Friday injuries can become. They calculated the likelihood of surviving a stampede in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. “Even with the best intentions, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder don’t have full control of how they move. Random unexpected collisions between neighbors add up to serious collective effects” Jesse Silverberg, Ph.D. in physics, said.
When people see the item, say an Xbox, at the end of the aisle, they lose control of their cognitive functions. Like a lab rat running through a maze, customers are programmed to do one thing, and one thing only — get their item.
This mentality, multiplied by several hundred people in a crowded area, would make anyone claustrophobic. Only the bravest souls can shop on Black Friday, where everyone is an extroverted warrior. But on Cyber Monday, everyone can shop in peace.
It’s quick, convenient and less redundant. Reading “out of stock” is much less heart wrenching than physically fighting for the item. While the supply is equally finite but abides by the “first come, first served” motto makes online shopping straightforward and “fair” for all.
Invented in 2005, Cyber Monday has become more popular since the digitalization of shopping. In 2000, only 22% of Americans shopped online. In 2016, it increased to 79%. Now, in 2019, shoppers prefer to purchase their items on Cyber Monday, “as consumers shifted their purchasing channels online,” Ted Donath, vice president of Honey — an online coupon browser extension — told Business Insider. Cyber Monday had a 21% increase in shoppers, while Black Friday sales dropped to 18.5%. A survey found that 68% of BlackFriday.com users said they’ll be shopping online this year.
But while Cyber Monday sales are on the rise, the demise of Black Friday is also falling into fruition. Black Friday shopping has declined by 7% from 2017 to 2018. “It’s losing a lot of its emotional intensity,” Dr. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University School of Law in California, said. “Blah Friday,” according to Yarrow, is expected to be overtaken by Cyber Monday in the next decade.
But for people sitting on the fence, the question they should ask themselves is: Where can I spend my money and not get hurt in the process? The solution has been hiding in plain sight all along — on your phone, computer or anything with access to the internet.
The chaos that ensues on Black Friday might not discourage “bargain shoppers” who are aware of the risk that entails saving big on cameras, flat-screen TVs and other items. But for millions of digital age shoppers, the best alternative is to enjoy the remainder of their Thanksgiving weekend and save their shopping for the following Monday. By waiting until Monday to purchase their Christmas gifts, shoppers are protecting themselves from severe physical harm and burglaries. Whether a discount is 30% off the latest flat-screen television or $200 off a Jared necklace, no bargain is worth enduring bodily harm — whether it be with someone’s purse, mace or words.