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Like all holidays, however, Black Friday derives its power in large part from its ephemeral nature. It only happens once a year. The best deals go quickly. You spend weeks recruiting team members, scouting store layouts, devising the route plans and nutritional strategies that competitive endurance shopping requires, and then, poof, after all that anticipation and rehearsal, the whole thing’s over, just 24 short hours after it began.
Cannibalizing Thanksgiving in the name of Black Friday is a grand humanitarian gesture and probably good business practice as well. At least in theory, longer Black Friday hours and more enduring specials should result in less crowding, fewer confrontations, a safer holiday, smoother commerce.
But less time waiting in lines will also mean less time for family bonding. Deals that last longer will reduce the need for extensive strategizing and planning, which will also likely reduce the excitement and satisfaction that Black Friday’s most diehard adherents derive from the day. And when $100 flat-screens become absolutely easy to acquire, $100 flat-screens will no longer be magic wands that transform mere friends into comrades for life. The true value of hardcore consumerism can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone.