The 2020 Black Friday Experience: Retail Edition.

Black Friday is an American holiday where people indulge that famed capitalist system; the goal is to get an expensive product for a doorbuster sale. That and getting the first breath of Christmas air that comes during late November. 

However, this year is an odd one, anyone could tell you that. I had the opportunity to be both a buyer and shopper during this year’s Black Friday event. It was different, I went down to the Fashion Place Mall in Murray and was greeted with the smell of hand sanitizer and with a red text screaming: “BUY THIS!” 

Immediately I saw people pushing past each other to get to different stores, Macy’s had the brunt of the chaos as tired boyfriends desperately followed their girlfriends into the next wallet eater outlet all the while balancing shopping bags on each arm. 

On the other hand, I saw people I heard talking about “this is the first time I’ve been outside since quarantine!” Which, all things considered, is quite the achievement.

Overall, it wasn’t the safest place to be in regards to social-distancing. The sheer lack of distance would have made the governor send out another tweet. As for me, I did my best to keep my hands to myself and to steer clear of every screaming child I came across. The sales were mediocre, the workers were clearly overworked while sweating under cotton masks. It was all wary like everyone was floating above the mountains of implications as they were just seeking normalcy. This year has been plagued with statistics of death counts and constantly dealing with new regulations as things get worse. 

I only felt that impact when I worked later that night. I work in a standard retail store, not popular but not unknown, so the trickle of people coming in that day felt like a steady rush. Orders were misplaced, customers were yelling about coupons, and half of my coworkers were ready to walk out at any given moment. In my experience working through a similar Black Friday last year, my store was severely undertrained due to the high turnover and COVID regulations in place. 

It was not fun, unlike last year where it was fun to be panicked and fun to work late into the night. The days after have been an emotionally draining process as customers are continually a struggle to deal with and managers are burning out.

My heart goes out to essential workers and retail workers who had to work these hard days. This year is already hard enough, and now with the official fanfare of the Christmas season dawning, I can only cross my fingers and hope that by Christmas we’ll all still have a job at the end of the day.