Holiday Shopping: Magic or Malicious?

Quetzalcoatl Dalupan, Staff Writer

There are many holidays that are celebrated in America, many of which signify the beginning of a new season, or new opportunities, but almost none have become as infamous as the one and only Black Friday.

Black Friday is a long standing tradition that dates back to 1950s when, “Police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving”according to It signifies the beginning of the holiday shopping season and has varied in definition throughout history. Some stores take the opportunity to raise sales by lowering prices for a day and others hold the sales for the entire weekend until Monday, also known as “Cyber-Monday” or as far as entire week, known as “Cyber-Week.” Despite being the beginning of the holiday season, as well as being the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is anything but cheery for most shoppers. It is one of the most infamous and well video documented yearly occurrences on social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter videos of people storming and rampaging through stores can be streamed for hours on end. Black Friday is most well-known for its chaotic and violent incidents that involve shoppers, retailers, and retail employees.

As reported by AllThatsInteresting, “The increase in crowds as the years went made Black Friday progressively more unsafe. Shoppers have been trampled and injured after eager storms of crowds flooded into stores seconds after the doors opened. People have gotten into fights over products, and in some instances, people have actually died.” Senior Emma Wijsman states, “People are greedy for the things they want.” Bodily injury and potential life threatening experiences are quite the opposite of what the holiday season often represents. According to BlackFridayDeathCount, since the year of 2006, there have been “14 deaths, 117 injuries” since 2006 as of Nov. 28, 2021.

Many retailers attempt to take advantage of the yearly stream of customers by opening earlier and earlier, some as early as midnight or even the Thursday before Black Friday, commonly dubbed ‘Black Thursday.’ A very popular holiday with trendy thrift shoppers. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic starting in late 2019 and continuing at the present time, nation wide participation has dropped significantly in favor of online shopping. However, that does not undo the injuries and deaths that have happened in the past. Many wild stories have hit the spotlight over the years, one of which being about a man who used a belt as a whip against other shoppers.

According to CTVnews, “Several people had gathered outside the Adidas store at 848 Granville St. for the release of a rare athletic shoe the store was putting on-sale for a Black Friday event.But the sale was called off when the crowd turned violent, with several people fighting in the street. One man, who was shirtless, started using his belt as a whip in an incident caught on cellphone camera and posted to social media. The video shows dozens of people on both sides of the street shouting and holding up their phones. A few men are around the shirtless man, ducking when he whips his belt.” While many are safe at home shopping online for good deals, shoppers and retail employees must deal with potentially dangerous customers yearly as the anticipation to take advantage of good sales raises tension among shoppers. Sophomore Jack Brenneman states, “People are always so anxious to get what they want.” As Black Friday is seen as a vital opportunity to purchase potential Christmas gifts at a cheap price, it is understandable why shoppers would be excited to take advantage.

Although physical violence is a common occurrence at retailers, other forms of intentional or unintentional bodily harm are not impossible to see. From hit and runs to as far as gun violence, going Black Friday shopping seems to be more and more dangerous every year. As reported by TheHustle, “Shootings, it turns out, make up 6 of the 11 reported Black Friday deaths.” While this data was provided from 2019, it is rather shocking to hear so many deaths were caused from gun violence over trampling as so many videos on social media would have us presume. Freshmen Zach Baker asks, “Why would someone even bring a gun shopping?” While not a super common occurrence, gun violence is a very real threat, especially at large retailers. Such as at a “Toys R us” according to TheHustle, “In Palm Desert, California, two men shot each other to death after their female companions got into a bloody fistfight at a Toys R Us.”

As people decide whether to participate in Black Friday every year, it must be taken into account that such a crowded and dangerous holiday is only made more so by the existing pandemic. While the holiday season is a cheery joyous occasion, with a potentially rough start, it is important to remember that staying alive to be with your family is vital to enjoying said season. As junior Amaris Zelaya states; “It is just shopping.”