If anyone needed a demonstration that America has lost its spiritual bearings, “Black Friday,” which officially began this year at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving evening, provided ample proof. The Christmas shopping season, which used to causally begin the day after Thanksgiving, increasing its intensity over the next four weeks, has now become an end in itself for large segments of the population, not to mention the nation's retail sector. Over time the focus of the Christmas season has shifted from the birth Christ and the joy of giving into a nearly non-stop frenzy of purchasing.
While one explanation has it that the term “Black Friday” was coined to indicate the day that many retail businesses finally turned a profit on the wings of shoppers' runaway dollars, the phrase now appears to more aptly describe the moral depths to which millions descend in their desperate attempts to find meaning in an increasingly secularized holiday season.
As reported widely by the media, the really big winners in this year's Black Friday extravaganza — along with its “Cyber Monday” aftermath — have been the nation's retailers. According to the National Retail Federation (RTF), the source for many of the holiday retail statistics, a record 247 million individuals visited both retail stores and websites over the Thanksgiving holiday beginning Thursday and stretching through Sunday, spending an estimated $59.1 billion. Some 35 million shoppers visited both websites and brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving alone, as scores of retailers like Walmart, Sears, Target, and Shopko kicked off the shopping season on that holiday evening.
The shopping frenzy stretched into the next week as retail researchers expected “Cyber Monday” — when millions of shoppers take advantage of online deals — to break records as well. According to one research firm, comScore, Cyber Monday was expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third straight year, with U.S. shoppers slated to spend some $1.5 billion — up 20 percent from last year.
Click here to read the entire article and view a YouTube video of a shopping melee at a Georgia Walmart.
Photo: AP Images