Washington shoppers lose interest in Black Friday shopping
For a few years there, Black Friday was the perfect example of why millennials are suspicious of capitalism.
From 2008 to 2015 it seemed like every year around this time there were stories of violence, fights, and tramplings. The economy wasn’t great, the deals were advertised as too good to be true, so it’s not really a surprise people behaved this way. That’s what made the whole thing so scary, as irrational as the whole thing seemed, economically-speaking, the behavior was rational.
Fortunately, at least in Washington state, the Black Friday craziness seems to be subsiding. According to a study conducted by Washington State University, 65 percent of Pacific Northwest shoppers said they’d opt out of Black Friday this year.
The Black Friday market correction
What’s driving the shift? Certainly the economy has improved and people are less willing to spend their holiday weekend camping in the cold outside of a Walmart. Probably a bigger factor: according to the study, 75 percent of respondents indicated any shopping they did on Black Friday would be online.
Conservatives could and should frame this as a win for the free market. For years, progressives like myself criticized companies for setting up these “doorbuster” deals that were literally getting people injured and killed. It felt like a very explicit failure of a capitalist system where companies were exploiting consumers.
I’m not arguing those critiques were misplaced, I still believe they were totally fair at the time, but the system corrected itself without any intervention on the part of a government entity. Online companies started offering the same products, similar deals, and consumers didn’t have to risk frostbite or trampling to get them.
I don’t remember any specific calls for policy changes in the wake of Black Friday violence, and I think anyone would acknowledge it still would’ve been nice if this shift had taken place before an employee was trampled to death. That being said, I’m big enough to admit it appears the free market did manage to mitigate the problem of violent Black Friday sales without any help from activists.
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