Black Friday: Obsessive Compulsive Shopping

Every American is familiar with the phenomena that is the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. Preparation for this event begins as early as planning for Thanksgiving. Stores inform consumers of their Black Friday promotions via personalized postcards and an overflow of coupons. Thousands of people camp out in tents outside of major chain stores and malls in order to secure their ownership of a sixty-inch television or the Michael Kors watch displayed in Macy’s. And once the doors open, a stampede of crazy, selfish, and motivated shoppers fill any and all places of business, clearing out stores’ inventory and their wallets.

This behavior of compulsive shopping is not limited to Black Friday; in fact, there are people who engage in this type of consumerism on a regular basis. Even during the recession that occurred, many Americans were still going to the mall and were treating themselves to retail therapy. The euphoria that shopping gives to consumers, especially in a materialistic, capitalist society, is worth charging the card and spending out of their means. This satisfaction motivates consumers to go back to the stores again. On the other hand, stores and malls allure more shoppers through sales and personal promotions. By wooing already tempted consumers, stores encourage greater shopping throughout the year. It just so happens that Black Friday makes this compulsive shopping socially acceptable.

Although Americans are spending money and consuming on a daily basis, there are many that take consumerism to a whole new level. Black Friday is the epitome of compulsive shopping.


Discussion Questions:

  • Are there any other occasions when compulsive consumerism is encouraged, or at its peak?
  • Do you go out of your financial boundaries to purchase something? Why?


  1. jgongola

    Very interesting blog post about black Friday shopping. It is interesting to talk about how people will do anything to go shopping and get deals. As you said in your class presentation it is interesting to see how stores portray black Friday as the day with the best deals when the best deals actually take place after Christmas usually in January. I will say though it is a little unfair since shopping is very important. In many ways it is the way I believe economist judge the economy since the more people shop the more money is spread around therefore it helps economy of society even though it may put some people in economic issues.

  2. Farida

    Another trend of compulsive shopping occurs around Christmas. When people are constantly reminded of their shopping needs for the holidays and all the people that they have to buy gifts for through all forms of media and advertisements. The only difference is that the shopping occurs over at least a consistent month instead of a single day and therefore it does not seem like there are as many shoppers. I would argue however that more money is spent surrounding Christmas then in that single day when consumer frenzy is evident in every corner. A lot of people around black friday go out to shop but end up not buying anything or buying very little, while Christmas is a time where people must buy gifts and even those that don’t celebrate Christmas are consumed by this environment as they have to buy their friends and co-workers gifts. Christmas is by far the peak of the shopping season.

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