Shoppers laden with bags of sale items walk South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., on a rainy Black Friday morning, Nov. 29, 2013. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Shoppers laden with bags of sale items walk South Coast Plaza. Many retailers are opening their stores as early as 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

As the scent of pumpkin lattes fills the campus air, it’s clear the autumn season is in full effect. That sweet smell seems to transition into peppermint mocha quicker each year. While Starbucks breaks out those candy cane-colored cups, retailers gear up for their traditional “day after Thanksgiving” sales event, otherwise known as Black Friday. But how soon is too soon to begin shopping and what does it all mean?

For Psychology major Kortney Brothers, Thanksgiving means the beginning of the holiday season.

“I remember being younger,” Brothers said. “We’d have Thanksgiving dinner and than we’d just get to chill and be lazy for a while and then later on in the night we’d get all ready to go (shopping).”

Like many Americans, Black Friday shopping is an after-Thanksgiving tradition for Brothers and her family.

“It’s fun because it starts off the holiday season,” Brothers said. “It kind of already feels like the holidays to me . . . It’s not really serious until Thanksgiving is over. Then it’s Christmastime.”

Popular big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy are opening their doors as early as 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year. This early-bird retail trend cuts into the time employees of those retailers typically shared with their families on Thanksgiving.

“I just feel like it might get worse and worse,” Brothers said. “All the stores are competing just to be earlier just so people go there first.”

Some students see the consumerism of U.S. holidays as an indication that holidays are too commercialized. Sophomore Michelle Adame said, “I think all holidays in the U.S. are really corporate . . . so I don’t really think we’re remembering anything. I think we’re just doing it to see what we can sell. I think it’s more corporate than anything.”

Last year Bloomberg reported an estimated $57.4 billion were spent during the four days surrounding Thanksgiving.

Vice President of WSU Greek Council, J.J. Freeman said, “Thanksgiving is the time we give thanks for this wonderful country we live in. It’s the one day out of the year we’re given to sit down and say thanks for what we have.”

Freeman, who works in retail, provided his perspective on Black Friday.

“It’s fun but it’s the complete opposite of Thanksgiving in my opinion,” Freeman said. “Six hours ago they were sitting with their family saying ‘thank you’ and the next six hours they’re fighting some guy they barely even know for a TV.”

There have been seven deaths and 90 injuries reported during Black Friday in the past eight years. Senior Beth Greenhalgh cautions shoppers saying, “You do have people that will mistreat others just to get the deal that they want.”

Freeman offered his advice to students during the upcoming holiday season.

“Let’s be thankful for everything we have,” Freeman said. “Instead of moping about what we don’t have or what we could or should have, and just be thankful for what we do have.”

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