I’m Staying Home on Black Friday — and Here’s Why

by Thursday Bram · 29 comments

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.

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  • J J says:

    Very wise not to shop on Black Friday! It’s called that because, besides Christmas Eve, it’s the day the stores take in the most money. That should tell you something about the crowd conditions. Not worth the risk of being trampled on, nor the headache of having things snatched out from under my very hand—or out of it!—fighting the crowds, and getting worn to a frazzle from it all. What’s fun about that? Nope, I’m going to use the brains God gave me and stay home. Besides, it makes more sense to shop year ’round. then you’ve got it in the bag, so to speak, way ahead of time.

  • Paul says:

    Here’s the thing I don’t get about Black Friday, if you had saved money for Christmas gift-giving all year, and you expected to spend a certain amount on gifts or a specific gift, unless there was a 50% savings on the items you expected to buy, why would Black Friday appeal to you anyway? Black Friday just feeds into the buy-it-here, buy-it-now, you’ll-never-find-it-cheaper, desperation, mentality. I say, plan your list, determine your budget, and if you can get a good buy, great. If not, you already planned to spend that much money. What a vicious cycle. How much did that item really cost the store if it can be discounted at 50%. What’s the real value of an item that is already marked up 300%? Is that really a good deal? I say, think, plan, assess your values, assess you pocketbooks, and shop accordingly. Personally, I hate the shopping frenzy. I think this type of gift-shopping gluttony should be removed from the true spirit of Christmas completely. This year my shopping will be simple, thoughtful, and I will spend the season with family, watching holiday movies, going to holiday plays, concerts, and family gatherings. It’s just gotten to be too much.

  • Michael Douglas says:

    Well, I just had a bad day for Black Friday. LOL. I fell in line for 1 hour just to get the next unavailable food cart. LOL. I really felt the Thanksgiving Day after I finish my shopping. It is like “Thank God I made it.” LOL

  • GigglesUncontrollably says:

    Your articles expresses my sentiments exactly. So many people’s reasoning also disappears when faced with a really good price…the fact they had never even considered one of “those”, and have no use for it seems to become irrelevant. I wonder what the depression levels for the following day are, as people wake up to the fact that they’ve bust the budget.
    I’ve been doing most of my smaller, stocking filler type shopping over the past 6 months as I see things on special, and just left the kids bigger gift for now (they always seem to change their wish list in the last month). All 3 want cellphones or upgrades and Net10 generally have good prices year round (and don’t seem to feature much on Black Friday anyhow), so can do that that shopping at my convenience. In fact, they are so much cheaper than what I’d probably spend if I went looking for a phone on special, that I’ll probably throw in a month of unlimited minutes just as a treat.
    My husband’s wanting a Nikon camera, which is one of those things that you shop for carefully anyhow, and don’t just take the item that’s on special, so that solves that one.
    It was such a pleasure sleeping in…worth far more than any “savings” I could have made. 🙂

  • scir91onYouTube says:

    don’t you read the circulars? they say minimum 2 or 4 or so on per store. this means that is all they have for sale that morning. the next day, magically, all the stock reappears. i call black friday the bait and switch day.

  • Norman @ simplemoneylife says:

    I have a friend who went last year to a “major” electronics store, stood in line for hours to buy a flat-screen TV that was advertised at a low price. By the time he got in the store, he was told that they were out of that TV. Yep, you guessed it, they sold him a bigger, more expensive TV. He said had to get SOMETHING after standing in line for so long. They sure know how to play us don’t they?.

  • lili dauphin says:

    It sounds like fun. I’ve never tried it before. I only need a blender and a cooking pot for my rice and beans. My blender has died many moons ago and my favorite cooking pot has disappeared. I saw blenders for less than $50.00 at Bath Bed and Beyond less 20% off. You’re only required to arrive before 10:00 a.m. That’s not too bad. I drove by the Best Buy store and the throng is longer than Long Island plus it’s cold outside. It’s 2:30 a.m. already. I need to get ready within half an hour. By the time I get there, I’ll be so sleepy I may not even recognize the items that I’m looking for. I’ll go next year instead. Meanwhile, I’ll get my blender on line. I can’t wait to start enjoying my new line of smoothies again.

  • royalfuzziness says:

    Coming from my cousins house in West Allis, i just drove by the I-94 Outlet Mall in Kenosha WI. What a mess it’s already backed up onto the expressway, So glad i am going home.

  • Deette says:

    Amen…. I am totally not shopping black friday either. I watch the sales and plan my christmas (gifts & giving) all year long. Another ploy of the stores is to only carry a minimum amount of an item say 10 or 25 that are advertised on the front page of the ads… by the time you stand in line and wait…. the item is all gone when you get to that specific department…. To me it is just not worth the hype or the hassle. I too am sleeping in and saving my money. Have a Fabulous & Frugal day…..

  • Kimmy says:

    Sitting outdoors in 25 degree weather for hours to save some money doesn’t seem sane. And the other people in line are ruthless. They want that gift, or they will get ugly. Black Friday brings out the worst in people.

    Worse yet, I have done it before, and moments after the store opened, I hear and employee scream down the line.. WE ARE SOLD OUT OF… Now you wasted hours freezing for nothing.

    I am with you on finding deals throughout the year, buying, and putting the item away.

  • Sandy says:

    It’s flu season and Walmart is the best place to catch it.

  • Mel Gibson says:

    I think for people who wants challenge and more fun while shopping they should go here in this kind of shopping happenings. While for people who has health problems then they shouldn’t include in this kind of happenings.

  • Erv Server says:

    When I was a kid stores were closed on Thanksgiving, even gas stations. If really felt like a holiday. This year several retailers are open on turkey day, this takes the wind out of Black Friday. I’m sort of sick of it all and do nearly all my shopping online from home.

  • Drewster says:

    Stay away from trashy Walmart – that’s where are the crazies shop.

  • Mark says:

    You can find many of the same deals on the Internet or by waiting until after Black Friday. Retailers are desperate for business.

  • Tom says:

    I like to go to the biggest mall and take-in all the sights – you know – the music/crowds/madness, the countless deals, frenzied shoppers, kids with dreams/fears of sitting on the lap of you-know-who, etc. etc. I don’t do any buying, just watching, hearing, smelling, experiencing. Besides, there will be plenty of time to panic about the shopping list later. Black Friday is actually pretty good entertainment – and free if you decide. I see it as an opportunity to really experience first-hand a great, time-compressed, free market experiment.

  • ryan | Poker Training says:

    I agree with you…I would much rather avoid the stress, the stampedes, etc. and shop from the comfort of my own sofa 🙂


  • MoneyNing says:

    I’m very involved in the online retail space these days, so let me offer my 2 cents on the whole online shopping/Black Friday/Cyber Monday fiasco.

    1. There are Black Friday deals online in addition to Cyber Monday deals too. In fact, some merchants have different deals starting from Friday all the way to Monday, though the deals on Friday and Monday are usually better.
    2. Those super deals that are offered to say the first 10 customers (the ones that most people never get but act as good advertising) are not available online. You however will get similar deals to most people who line up (who weren’t the first in line).
    3. Black Friday serve as a chance for retailers to clear old inventory. If you are part of the group that plans to make money off what you buy by selling them off eBay (be ready for stiff competition nowadays), you probably should just stay home and buy online because there are no lines and the prices are comparable / cheaper.

  • Stella says:

    I’m with ya–can’t stand the thought of crowds and lines and traffic and all for what? It’s nuts.

  • retirebyforty says:

    We are going to see the parade, no shopping. I’ll hold off until Cyber Monday to shop from the comfort of my cubicle.

  • Briana @ GBR says:

    It’s been a tradition for me for the past 7 years or so, and I think I’m opting out this year. I don’t have anything I really want/need. I may hop on the computer and buy a new camera and printer, but I’m not doing much shopping this year.

  • marci357 says:

    It could be detrimental to your health…. remember the folks who get crushed in the crowds and die??? or injured?? Or just totally stressed out….

    Why would a sane person go thru that??

    Never gone so far, and see NO reason to start now.
    besides, my shopping is all done anyway 🙂

    • Sue says:

      Not to mention you are exposed to hundreds more people than usual and many of them coughing and sneezing in an enclosed space.

      • dutterman says:

        Can you imagine though, if we had a true grocery or food emergency how people will act raiding the stores?

        • Sue says:

          A chilling thought indeed. I try to have extra canned and dried foods on hand for just in case. A local dollar store sometimes has good buys on canned goods to make stocking the shelves less costly.

          • scir91onYouTube says:

            don’t eat canned food. the BPA inside the metal is bad for the body. better to eat FROZEN fruits and veggies. much safer and just as nutritious as fresh ones plus they last a long time. cook fresh beans. in all, SKIP THE CANS

    • jane says:

      Like Marci, I feel the same way! Never have gone out on B.F. and never will. I am all done as well. I give gift cards and then there is no whining or crying. Buy their own thing and everybody is happy! Especially me!

  • Michael Douglas says:

    Gosh, no more Black Friday. We are in the digital age thus we have Cyber Monday where we only our fast fingers to get the best deal. But its all the same, just buy what you need and think a lot before you buy items you don’t need but is hard to pass.

  • KM says:

    Another reason not to go: Cyber Monday. Just as many deals, if not more, and a hell of a lot more convenient. And well, I think many stores also have a lot of sales most of the way to Christmas, so there is no need to rush in at midnight after Thanksgiving.

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