Why Black Friday is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Black Friday has seemingly gotten more and more ridiculous each year. Many retailers now push their Black Friday opening times into Thanksgiving, leading many bargain shoppers to hustle out of their family dinners and over to their nearest big box stores. However, it seems that critical mass has been reached and the era of Black Friday is coming to a close.

A recent article by Two Cents argues that Black Friday’s reign as the king of shopping events is over. Furthermore they explain why that’s actually a good thing for thrifty consumers. Their first point is that many of the “door busters” and other deals retailers use to lure customers to their gates at the crack of dawn are now also available online, leaving no reason to fight your way through a manic crowd post Thanksgiving turkey tryptophan overdose.

Beyond Black Friday’s reach into the holiday before it, many analysts have observed what they call the “greying” of the touted shopping day. Instead of merely offering a single day sale, retailers have been experimenting with offering early Black Friday deals both online and in-store. Additionally one of the most sought-after Black Friday purchases — televisions — have typically had just as good if not better deals around the Super Bowl as they do on the fourth Friday in November.

Another important thing to realize about Black Friday is that many of the bargains may not be as good as the seem on the surface. For example some of the most deeply discounted electronics offered are often for off-brands that retail significantly lower year round. Other deals are what’s known as “bundles” where the item you want may not be reduced by much but is instead bundled with a free extra item to create the impression of a deep discount. You may actually be spending more for the primary item than you could get it for in a normal sale so make sure the “bonus” items are really adding value to your purchase.

If you still intend to go Black Friday shopping here are some tips to make sure you’re really getting a good deal. The first step is to track prices on the items you’re eyeing prior to Black Friday. Sure the ads and circulars will offer an MSRP to tell you how much you’ll be saving with their sale, but most items will rarely actually be sold at that price to begin with. By knowing what the items actually fetch outside of Black Friday, you can decide it’s a legitimately good deal or just marketing hype.

Perhaps the most important key to Black Friday shopping is sticking to you shopping list. The entire point of a door buster deal is to bring you into the store. Once there retailers are counting on the fact that many will then be enticed by their other items. A disciplined shopper who can avoid temptation can take advantage of the “loss leaders” sales and pull out a Black Friday win for their bank accounts.

While Black Friday will still be a shopping bonanza for years to come, it is no longer what it once was. Overall this is a great thing for consumers looking to fulfill their holiday shopping lists without spending a fortune. By shopping early deals (including online), tracking prices to know if you’re really getting a bargain, and not being tempted to stray from your shopping list, you can help put the nail in Black Friday’s coffin.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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