For years, Black Friday, that storied day after Thanksgiving when one can procure bargain-basement deals on top-of-the-line goods, has been creeping backward.
First, it was the early morning sales that had people lining up the night before in their wool coats and with portable heaters.
Then, the stroke of midnight became the kickoff for the holiday shopping season.
Now, the turkey isn’t even in the oven Thursday before some retailers are turning on the lights, powering up the computer checkout stations and opening the door to let the deal-crazed hordes arrive.
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The backslipping of Black Friday into our national day of thanks is one thing. But it’s been spreading forward too, mutating into other “special” shopping days, as if we Americans needed any excuse to head to the mall.
For those who would rather pay $100 more for that flat-screen TV than be jostled around in unruly Black Friday crowds, there’s Cyber Monday when the shopping is conducted online.
For those who are still feeling a little shoppy as the week gets on, but also guilty about actually acquiring more stuff for oneself, then there’s Giving Tuesday. That’s the day on which consumers are encouraged to give to charitable organizations and other needy causes.
Recently, American Express saw a great big gap between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and dreamed up a new “special” shopping day, Small Business Saturday, @shopsmall on Twitter, to get people to shop at local retailers.
Supporting homegrown business is something we can really get behind, even if this effort was thought up as a way to encourage smaller retailers fed up with hefty transaction fees not to stop accepting shoppers’ Amex cards.
But even if you don’t use a credit card, spending money near home is a good practice, Saturday or any day. It benefits the local economy, the environment and even the community. Where you spend determines where sales taxes go. Spend it locally and that tax will have benefits – more money for schools or parks – closer to home.
For this reason, we have to applaud the city of Sacramento for turning off the parking meters in midtown, downtown and Old Sacramento during key shopping times. Starting Friday, meters will be free on weekdays after 4:30 p.m. and all day on Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas.
We can be smart about how and where we shop. So as we’re buying gifts for friends and family, we can help our hometowns a little along the way.