This year’s Black Friday will be the first campaign of the holiday season where we set the tone for a new type of holiday culminating with #OCCUPYXMAS.

Buy Nothing Campaign

MoJo: Buying Happiness

LAT: Competitive Shopping

November 25, 2011
Macy’s shoppers ignore pleas by protesters
By Barney Jopson in New York

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When the small group of people who had been milling among them suddenly starting yelling at them, the faces of some shoppers queueing outside tensed into visible unease. Others displayed only bemused curiosity.

“You are allowing the corporate media and marketing agencies to control your minds,” shouted a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters, who were targeting the extreme consumerism on show on Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is known.

“They are brainwashing you,” they told shoppers, who had been drawn to the Macy’s flagship in New York by its aggressive marketing.

In the Macy’s queue, however, any concern that big business was enriching the elite at the expense of “the 99 per cent” was eclipsed by a desire for it to dish out cut price shoes, handbags and – in particular – an exclusive Justin Bieber fragrance.

The small group of protesters urged shoppers to go home to their families and “tell them you love them”. But fortunately for Macy’s no one did.

Near the front of the queue was Cara Sweeney, a student from Queens, who said the protesters added an extra layer of fun to her first night of shopping on Black Friday, but otherwise displayed no sympathy for them.

“I think it’s a waste of time. They should get on with their lives,” she said. “They want to help small business, but they were not helping business by blocking people from getting to work [around Zuccotti Park, where they camped out].”

After logging holiday revenues of $8.3bn last year, Macy’s predicted its like-for-like sales in this fourth quarter would rise by between 4 and 4.5 per cent.

After seeing several thousand people grab at his merchandise with the determination of famished hunters, Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chief executive, said he was sticking by the forecast.

Black Friday kicks off a make-or-break holiday shopping season for retailers, and the move by some to open at midnight or earlier signalled their desperation to secure a share of overall spending that may rise only modestly from last year.

One protester, who gave his name as Freddy, told the Financial Times: “Our main message is that these people should take their money and support the poor and small businesses. We are the ones who give the rich the power.”

Corey Pierce from Harlem, who arrived outside Macy’s with bags full of merchandise bought at Toys R Us, said the rich needed to downgrade their lifestyles, but disagreed with the protesters on other issues. “I understand what they’re saying. But at the same time kids have to be kids. They want toys,” he said.

Mr Lundgren stressed that Macy’s – as “America’s department store” – was not selling luxury products that were the preserve of the ultra-rich and did a lot to support small businesses itself. “That’s a point that’s been missed here.”

When the doors opened, thoughts of politics were trampled in a stampede.

Tempers flared at the escalator, boxes of $19.99 leather boots were seized, and discarded clothes spread across the floor. Husbands slumped in chairs and disappointed young girls lamented that Justin Bieber, the teenage singer, was not there himself.

Meanwhile the protesters, who had melted away outside when several police officers appeared, did not re-emerge as threatened to occupy Macy’s.

As the no-holds-barred shoppers proved that the day deserved the alternative name “Black Eye Friday”, the protesters were perhaps safer elsewhere.