Black Friday affects working teens

Shoppers+at+the+Hillsdale+Mall+pass+by+Black+Friday+promotions.

Charlotte Gordon

Shoppers at the Hillsdale Mall pass by Black Friday promotions.

Black Friday is an exciting event for many as the anticipation for the upcoming holiday season grows and people begin shopping for gifts. However, for those who work in retail, it can be a particularly stressful time.

Black Friday dates back to the 1950s, according to History. In the 1950s, Philadelphia police used the term “Black Friday” to “describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city.” 

By 1961, Black Friday had caught on in Philadelphia, and eventually, it caught on nationwide. Over 70 years later, this same rush of shoppers still occurs each year on the day after Thanksgiving. Many retailers have their best sales of the year on Black Friday and have all sorts of promotions to incentivize consumers to do their holiday shopping. Historically, Black Friday was a one-day event; however, it has become a week and sometimes even month-long event for some stores.

During the holiday season, stores need more workers to handle their increase in sales. Many of these minimum wage jobs in the Bay Area are staffed by teenagers, creating a dilemma for some teen workers who must balance job responsibilities and family obligations.

After working there for a year and a half, Sean Lundstrom recently became a manager at Hollister in the Hillsdale Mall. 

“I would say about 90 to 95% of our employees are teens,” Lundstrom said. 

The Hollister store hired quite a few more associates to cope with the increase in customers, according to Lundstrom.

“Our management is thankfully very understanding of people who want to travel. We check for their availability for the Black Friday week a few months in advance and continue to communicate and talk with our associates,” Lundstrom said. “We have them work if they are available during Black Friday week, and they get their schedules at least two to four weeks ahead of time.”

Our management is thankfully very understanding of people who want to travel. We check for their availability for the Black Friday week a few months in advance and continue to communicate and talk with our associates.”

— Sean Lundstrom, Hollister manager

Similarly, Pacsun hires several seasonal employees but still requires staff to be available on Black Friday.

“Right now, we are just preparing a lot for Black Friday. We have lots and lots of shipment in the back that everybody has to prepare, and we also have some seasonal workers,” said junior Kendall Grinker, who works at the Pacsun in Hillsdale Mall.

Grinker said some Pacsun employees have a hard time getting Black Friday off.

“I know someone [at Pacsun who] tried to get Black Friday off, and she couldn’t,” said Grinker. “I also know a couple of people who I work with have to fly back Thanksgiving night just to work on Black Friday.”

The responsibility to work right around Thanksgiving makes it difficult for some teens to travel to see their relatives.

One junior, Carolyn Ryan, who works at a smaller store at the Hillsdale Mall, described how her boss requires all employees to work on Black Friday regardless of their travel plans. Ryan and her family had scheduled a trip to go across the country to New York to visit her relatives well in advance.

“Our trip was jeopardized because of my minimum wage job,” Ryan said.

Ryan talked it over with her parents before she discussed it with her manager.

“It doesn’t make sense because as a teenager in high school who obviously still lives with my parents, it shouldn’t be expected of me to stay home and not visit family for my part-time mall job,” Ryan said.

Ultimately, Ryan was able to work it out with her manager, but “it was a really uncomfortable conversation to have.”