I#039;d rather procrastinate than deal with #039;Black Friday#039;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2003

It is an annual tradition for many Americans: gather around the table and give thanks for what you have on Thursday before going out and spending your hard-earned money on Friday.

In two days, shoppers will flock to malls and stores everywhere as the unofficial Christmas shopping season begins - a day that has come to be known as "Black Friday" to many working in the retail field.

Parking lots will be packed. Aisles at stores will be virtually impassible. And maybe, just maybe, you could see a fistfight for that last Cabbage Patch Kid.

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Yes, on Friday, people will be out early trying to take advantage of the "early bird" sales. Not me. My wife and I are, thankfully, procrastinating Christmas shoppers. We wait until the last week to buy our gifts.

A few years ago, I remember talking to an assistant manager of a big department store. He told me the parking lot was filled to over-flowing by the time the store opened at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. Now this store's parking lot is really big, mind you.

I remember him saying that an entire pallet of one-sale 20-inch television sets was empty within a half an hour or so. Bargain hunters were knocking each other over to get to them, he said. This must have been fun to watch.

I have heard others talk about "buggy rage" (this would be the equivalent of "road rage," only with shopping carts instead of vehicles). I have heard about shouting matches and even all-out brawls over merchandise. How could this be fun?

Most people believe "Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. While that may be true in terms of the number of shoppers, Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing at Purdue University, says it is only the fifth busiest shopping day when measured by sales volume.

The busiest shopping days of 2002, according to Feinberg, were: Saturday, Dec. 21; Monday, Dec. 23; Saturday, Dec. 14; Friday, Dec. 20; and then Friday, Nov. 29.

Which brings me to my point: is being a "late bird" really that bad? We have never, to my knowledge, missed out on buying something we had our minds set on because we were too late. It always seems to me the shelves still have plenty of stuff left on them on Dec. 20.

Sure, we have the stress of making sure we buy for everyone on our list, making sure we have crossed off all of the items (at least the ones we can afford) on our children's wish lists and all of the last-minute gift-wrapping, but it has to be better than the alternative.

On Thursday, I'll give thanks that I won't be shopping on Friday.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com