by: Estefan G. Salazar Ramos
The most anticipated event in the commercial industry called Black Friday took place on November 25, 2011, the day after Thanksgiving, on different shopping centers around Puerto Rico. Black Friday consists of the beginning of Christmas shopping where all stores put striking discounts to attract customers. Specialist say these are tricks for the customers to fall into but what the customers say is that they want to buy a Christmas gift at a “better” price.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans passed Thanksgiving Day tradition with their families and friends. When all family members finish their meal, most of them go quickly to stand in lines of stores until they open. Most customers arrive at 3:00 pm to take a good spot in the big line of people when almost all stores open between 12:00 am and 5:00 am.
Black Friday is contradictory because we are on an era of unemployment, economic crisis and violence. Yet, the customers appear to leave behind those things and make lines for hours with hundreds of other anxious customers that, when the stores open, run and push to grab cheap articles. Some customers, especially pregnant women, do not mind that the conditions on that night were not appropriate to their state and go on the search of Christmas gifts. The stores were supposed to make special lines for pregnant, old and disabled people, but not all stores did it.
Apart from the customers, inside the different stores were the members of “El Departamento de Asuntos del Consumidor” (DACO) verifying that all products announced on the shoppers were available. If the products are announced and not available DACO would impose a fine to the store.
Insults, verbal fighting and pushing happened in the line of people at the stores. All of this because of one main purpose: to get a LCD at an excellent price. In some stores, all occurred calmly, where the management of the store did a good job on the organization. Some stores were a complete chaos were a woman spread pepper spray to the people gathered in the line, so she could get first the item. The woman surrendered to the police for her actions and will soon receive a fine.
At one store of Best Buy, people were so anxious that in the moment the employees opened the door, the customers were so wild they had to close the door immediately. But that action put the customers wilder making the management of the store call the police to calm them down. The police put order but that was not sufficient. When they opened the door again customers were literally on the floor trying to get in the store through a small open space.
One of the customers that arrived early was Grace Ramos from Trujillo Alto. She was in the line to enter the Plaza Las Americas mall in Hato Rey. I asked her why and what she liked about the Black Friday. Grace replied: “What I like about Black Friday is the discounts the stores offer the customers for us to begin our Christmas shopping” and “Because I always have luck to find all the wanted gifts for my family and for myself also (laughs), I say I have luck because what people search here are for LCD, laptops and other electronic things and I do not search for those items.”
I asked her that if in her experience being on a Black Friday did she have any problems with another person. She answered that, “ In all consecutive years going to this sales I did not had any problems with any person, but I have seen fighting and arguments because people think that another person is trying to pass them in the line.”
Another customer that arrived early and was also doing the line to enter the Plaza Las Americas mall was 19 years old Gabriel Perez from San Juan. As I ask Gabriel Perez what he liked about the Black Friday, he replied: “I am here just for fun. I told my friends to go to Black Friday to see how people react when the door opens. I just want to laugh because I know there are going to be people that are going to fall and others would do crazy things.” Puerto Ricans see Black Friday as an opportunity to make their first Christmas shopping with attractive discounts to all customers. Meanwhile others just went just for fun. Based on the interview we can see that there are some people that go there just for fun and others because they really want to buy items at a good price.