Growing up, I always went to the Black Friday sales with my mother. She would scope out the flyers, make lengthy lists and even scope out store layouts to make sure that she could get everything she wanted. My mom would team up with friends to make sure that someone in their group was at each of the most important stores when doors opened. She’d drop me and my sisters off in different parts of the mall with a cell phone and instructions to report back. It was an experience that I will likely never forget.
And yet, when the morning after Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m not going to leave my house.
It’s Easy to Spend Too Much
There are great deals to be had on Black Friday — but those can wind up being very expensive deals in the long run. It’s easy to spot a deal over the course of your shopping that isn’t on your list but is too good to pass up — whether or not it’s something you need. You may have to buy two to get a third free of something that you’ll be lucky to use one of. There are definitely purchases I made when crawling Black Friday sales with my mother that I wish I could take back.
The entire concept of Black Friday is engineered to get people to buy. Stores plan their sales very carefully, counting on the fact that once you’ve fought your way into the store, you’ll want to buy something to justify coming. Even those long checkout lines on the morning after Thanksgiving are directed so that you see plenty of extra items you might want to add to your cart. Some shoppers have a certain sense that Black Friday is the perfect day to pick up all their holiday presents and, even if that perfect gift isn’t on sale, retail managers know that if they can just get it in front of you, you’ll likely pick it up.
Perfect planning is the only way to control your purchases on the morning after Thanksgiving and stores do everything they can to make sure you don’t stick to your list. That’s not necessarily a problem for many shoppers, but even if I miss out on saving a little money, I like being able to control my own shopping agenda.
It’s a Big Investment
Planning for Black Friday means pouring over the flyers and doing a great deal of planning: you need to make sure that you keep your purchases in line, you need to get to certain stores before they run out of what you want to buy and you even need to plan how you’re going to get from one store to the next. I’ve watched my mother spend hours beyond the time she spends rushing from store to store. That planning can be an expense in and of itself. Is your time worth the savings you can get by shopping on Black Friday? Not just the fact that you’ll spend a good chunk of the day after Thanksgiving shopping and then recuperating, but the time you’ll need to take before you even leave the house.
There can be some expenses associated with going out on Black Friday, as well. Depending on the locations you plan to shop in, you may be burning through plenty of gasoline, for instance. Many shoppers put holiday presents and other Black Friday purchases on credit cards, which means that interest may eat up the savings from a good deal. And all of that is not even digging into the actual cost of whatever you’re planning to go out and spend. Most of these expenses can be reduced through more planning, of course, if you’re willing to put even more work into this whole project.
It’s Possible to Find the Sales Without Going Out
There are certain online vendors that will offer some Black Friday deals without the hustle and bustle of going into the stores. If there’s something specific you need, looking online may be a good alternative to heading for those crowded stores. Many online retailers are offering free shipping as part of their Black Friday promotions. But you may also be able to get the discounts and deals you need on days other than Black Friday. On holiday presents, for instance, if you’re willing to give up the opportunity to buy every present you want to give on the same day, you can spread out your purchases as different items go on sale. I tend to start in the fall and make use of coupons, in store sales and online opportunities. I don’t really get the overall excitement of the Thanksgiving hoopla, but I actually tend to wind up spending less money overall.
Similarly, a lot of the products that go on sale for Black Friday go on sale at other times. Most electronics stores, for instance, will offer several sales on Black Friday — but will offer one or two items on sale each week in order to get customers into their stores. After all, Black Friday is just one day. Most stores need customers to come in and buy products every other day of the year, as well.
It’s Just Not Fun
When I was little, getting up before dawn and going to wait in line at a store was a lot more appealing than it is today. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner and don’t exactly expect to get to bed early. I just don’t see the fun of going out shopping on Black Friday. I realize that there are plenty of dedicated shoppers for whom the day after Thanksgiving represents about as much fun as they could have. If you’re one of them, more power to you. Enjoy your shopping excursion. Personally, I’m planning on sleeping late.