Convenience over Cashiers: how Black Friday shed light on a growing economic problem


Morgan Miller

A pile of Black Friday ads collected by a student showcase the many deals that stores are offering for the holiday.

Morgan Miller, Copy Editor

This year’s Black Friday may have been record breaking, but these sales don’t bode well for the future success of the economy or job market, especially for teens.

Black Friday 2019 was the second largest online shopping day in history, surpassed only by last year’s Cyber Monday. Online shopping sales went up to an astonishing $7.4 billion. The online shopping surge surely had an impact on the neglected malls and shopping centers, as in-store traffic was down 2.1 percent.

Economics teacher Phillip George considered the online shopping trend, presented by Black Friday. “I’m not really that surprised [that Black Friday was the second largest online shopping day ever] as many studies have shown … people become more and more comfortable with purchasing goods off of the internet and having them shipped to their homes,” he said.

Junior Sam McGrath was content to simply online shop during Black Friday because “stores are crazy, people are intense and I’m not about to get into a fight over a TV at Walmart,” he said. On the other hand, student Lola Johannsen was excited to brave the crowds in search of a good deal. “As a teenager I really don’t have a lot of money, so Black Friday was my chance,” she said.

As the retail market continues to be dominated by online shopping, the convenience of this type of shopping seems to make it the best option. However, most people don’t realize the negative effects online shopping will continue to bring to the economy and job market.

Retail jobs are often entry-level positions teenagers can take part-time over the summer or during the school year. In fact, 19.3 percent of employed teens worked retail jobs in July 2018, and it was the second most popular category of employment. When considered as a whole, the retail field makes up ten percent (15.8 million jobs) in the US alone.

George agreed losing these retail positions to warehouse workers is problematic for both consumers and job-seekers. “As people order more online while it increases the demand for warehouse workers and shipping services, it most likely does not replace the full number of retail jobs available at brick and mortar stores,” he said. “It hurts particularly smaller communities as warehouses are often not located in those locations, while brick and mortar stores often were.”

The media has nicknamed the mass store closing event as the “retail apocalypse”, a foreboding title for the uncertainty that lies ahead.