Rob Burgess

As American shoppers waded their way through the serious injuries and deaths which have become a sad hallmark of Black Friday, those looking for a bargain overseas this year began receiving their first major taste of the holiday.

“Greater Manchester Police appealed for calm after attending seven Tesco shops, at which three men were arrested and a woman was hit by a falling television,” reported the BBC Friday. “Police were called in places including Dundee, Glasgow, Cardiff and London. Originating in the U.S., Black Friday is becoming a major UK shopping day. Visa has predicted that UK shoppers will spend £518 million ($813 million) online on cards on Friday — which would make it the country's biggest Internet shopping day in history.”

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Black Friday and the retail marijuana industry there have combined to form a novel prospect: Green Friday. I didn’t hear of any injuries or deaths reported at these particular sales. (I wonder why?)

“Kindman Premium Cannabis had its lights on for a few hours this Thanksgiving — 'just in case you want[ed] to get away from the family,' said John Satterfield, a distribution worker — and will offer huge discounts all weekend to compete with other retail dispensaries,” reported Slate’s Laura Bradley on Friday. “Deals will include $50 ounces for the first 16 Colorado residents per day Friday through Sunday, along with other price cuts on products like joints and edibles. Some discounts will hit 80 percent to 90 percent, Satterfield says.”

As I wrote in my Nov. 21, 2012 column, “Caveat emptor, seriously; be careful,” I used to love participating in Black Friday. But the combination of the Great Recession turning the vibe among shoppers increasingly hostile and the decision by corporations to expand the holiday into Thanksgiving have really taken the fun out of it for me. The latter decision has caused Black Friday itself to begin to lose its meaning, and retailers have no one to blame but themselves. As I wrote in my Dec. 4, 2013 column, “(Bloody) Black (and Blue) Friday,” total Black Friday spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion in 2013. That was the first drop ever recorded since the National Retail Federation began tracking it in 2006. This year was even worse.

“Overall, 133.7 million people shopped at stores and online over the four-day holiday weekend, down 5.2 percent from last year, according to a survey of 4,631 consumers by the trade group,” reported Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press Sunday. “Total spending for the weekend is expected to fall 11 percent to $50.9 billion. … Shoppers, on average, are expected to spend $380.95 over the four days, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year.”

I managed to make it through Black Friday 2014 without spending a single cent. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. I had to work, so that cut into my possible shopping time. I already had enough gas in the tank to make it home without filling up. And I didn’t need to purchase any food as we were up to our ears in Thanksgiving leftovers. Simultaneously, around the country that day, Walmart workers struck for higher wages and protesters enraged by the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, called for shoppers to Blackout Black Friday in response. It was an accident I didn’t spend any money that day, but both groups can have my support retroactively.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.

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