WASHINGTON: It’s one of the biggest US holidays, but some Americans are wondering if Thanksgiving, and the shop-until-you-drop Black Friday that follows it, might be getting a bit out of control.
Over 38.2 million Americans will hit the highway for the four-day holiday weekend that begins Thursday, with another 3.4 million taking to the air, the AAA motorists’ association says.
Most will go back to their home towns for a family Thanksgiving dinner, with 88 percent of them tucking into roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, according to the National Turkey Federation.
Americans go through 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving, more than double the 22 million consumed a month later at Christmas. Once they’ve polished off their pumpkin-pie desserts, many will be off to the shopping malls for the pre-Christmas shopping melee known as Black Friday, when retailers slash prices on clothing, toys and consumer electronics.
“The amount of Black Friday shoppers will increase from 212 million last year to 225 million this year,” says blackfriday2011.com, a kind of Wikileaks for consumers looking to see Black Friday advertisements before publication.
So important is Black Friday to retailers — potentially more than $20 billion in sales, according to market analysis firm SpendingPulse — that many big-name outlets are opening earlier than ever.
“It’s a national holiday, not a national shopping day,” wrote one signer, Bryce Allision of Portland, “Encouraging people to shop in the middle of the night is bizarre,” added Scotty Brookie from Santa Cruz, California.
But Anahita Cameron, a Target human resources executive, defended the idea of bargain-hunting at the witching hour.