As someone with mild claustrophobia triggered by large crowds, I can assure you that no deal offered on the Friday after Thanksgiving will ever be good enough to induce me to camp out with hundreds of fellow shoppers. Some of my friends, however, have made a tradition of early morning Black Friday shopping who swear by it and even have a great time with the early morning camp-outs. But are the deals offered by retailers on Black Friday really that good? Before you line up outside of your local big box this year, here are some questions to consider:
1. How many door-buster items will really be stocked? Many retailers will offer incredible deals on items that everyone wants. The catch, though, is that the stores are only required to stock a few units of the discounted inventory. The goal of the door-buster offer is to get you in the door. Knowing that you’d rather not go home empty-handed, the stores will offer plenty units of a similar item with no discount. If you plan to get up early to grab one of the extremely discounted televisions or laptops, be prepared to walk away if you’re not one of the lucky few to get your hands on one.
2. What can you get online? Internet shopping has become such a fixture of holiday purchases that retailers will offer great discounts on their websites the Monday after Thanksgiving — giving rise to the new shopping day of Cyber Monday. And those online retailers with no storefronts like Amazon and Overstock.com will also try to boost their business on Black Friday by offerings deals and discounts. Before you commit to a morning spent outside waiting for a store to open, do some research online to find out where the best deals are and whether you can closely match a door-buster with an online purchase.
3. What do you have to sacrifice to shop on Black Friday? When our entire family gets together for Thanksgiving, we may eat the meal in the early afternoon, but we stick around until late at night to watch football, argue, catch up, play with babies, and come back for seconds, thirds and more. Getting up in time to catch the best deals first thing in the morning would mean I would have to go home and go to bed early so I could be nice and fresh for my 5 am shopping trip. I’d much rather have the family time on Thanksgiving, even if it means that I spend more on my gifts.
4. Why do you want to shop these sales? My friends who are regular Black Friday shoppers have decided to have fun with something that could also save them money. All the women in the family get up early together, enjoy 3 am coffee and donuts, and really have fun gossiping and planning Christmas for their kids while waiting for the stores to open. Yes, they are out for a good deal. But the time spent together before the holiday craziness descends is almost more important.
If you are planning on shopping Black Friday just to save a pile of money, you may find yourself angry, disappointed or overwhelmed by the end of the day. Is that really how you want to start the holiday season? On the other hand, if you plan to have a good time with family and friends on Black Friday and possibly save some money, then you’ll be enjoying the spirit of the season.