Is Black Friday the Key to Holiday Savings?

a woman with shopping bags looking at dressed mannequins in a store window

Is fighting the crowds on Black Friday worthwhile?  Black Friday has evolved into an extended weekend of shopping instead of just finding deals on the day after Thanksgiving.

Businesses offer huge discounts on Black Friday with the hope that they can make up for it in volume.  In 2016, more than 154 million consumers shopped over Thanksgiving weekend (up 3 million from 2015), and more than a third of shoppers said 100% of their purchases were on sale, according to the National Retail Federation.1

But are the biggest discounts available on that Friday, when most Black Friday weekend shoppers go looking for in-store sales?  Not always.  Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for “the big day.”

There’s always Cyber Monday.

The Monday after Black Friday is Cyber Monday, when many online businesses have big sales and offer free shipping.  Shopping on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday can be easier and faster for shoppers who want avoid the weekend rush.

Some stores don’t even participate in Black Friday, saving their sales for Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend sales hype has ended.

Do you really want that doorbuster?

Physical stores are known for having a few “doorbuster” items on sale on Black Friday as enticements to get shoppers in the door.

While a 60-inch Ultra HD Smart TV that’s advertised at only $300 is a great deal, it could have several caveats:

  • You may not know the manufacturer until you get to the store.
  • Only a dozen may be for sale — no rain checks.
  • You may have to stand in line outside the store for hours.
  • It could be a close-out or discontinued item that is on sale at another time, such as before Black Friday.
  • It may be a piece of junk, or at least have worse picture quality than similarly-priced TVs.
  • The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is knocked down 50%, but a lousy TV is still a lousy TV at any price.  A better quality TV may be found at a similar price.

And remember, if the doorbuster item you wanted is out of stock when you arrive at the store, the retailer has already done what it intended to — get you in the door.  Now you’re more likely to buy things you didn’t come for anyway.

Limited Sales for Popular Toys

A lot of Christmas shopping is about buying toys for your kids.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll find Black Friday deals on the hottest toys of the holiday season.

You may get lucky on Black Friday and grab a hot toy on sale that your kid wants, but chances are if it’s that popular it will sell out without a sale the day after Thanksgiving.

A better time to find deals on Christmas toys?  A week to 10 days before Christmas, when store owners are up against the December 25th deadline when all the good kids expect their gifts.

Don’t Deal With Rebates

Some stores promote Black Friday deals with rebates.  All to often, these are long, complex forms you have to fill out and return to the manufacturer to get some money back on your purchase.  On top of that, actually getting the rebate may require sending the forms by a specific date (as if the holiday season isn’t busy enough), and the rebate may not even be cash back but store credit, which only tempts you to spend more money.

Unless it’s an incredible deal, submitting rebate forms may be something you’d rather avoid.

If you do plan on taking advantage of a rebate, you should (1) do your homework to see if the steps required and the reward are worth it, and (2) set a specific time for when you will actually take the steps required.

Find Better Deals at Other Times

Buying a cheap, generic TV for your dorm room could be worthwhile in a Black Friday sale, if you’re not expecting a top-of-the-line product.  But if you’re after quality at a good price, you can find many items for sale at other times of the year.

Televisions typically go on sale after Christmas and run through Super Bowl Sunday.  Winter clothing is cheaper near the end of winter, just as summer items are on sale at the end of summer.  Stores are looking to move merchandise off their shelves to make room for in-season stock.

End-of-season sales won’t help you in your holiday shopping on Black Friday or later, but they can help if you shop year-round and think about buying gifts months in advance.

Shop Before Thanksgiving

The holiday shopping season may be kicked off on Black Friday, but sales earlier in the month are causing it to lose some of its luster.

Black Friday has already turned from a one-day event to a weekend of shopping sales that continue through Cyber Monday.  Some retailers are jumping the gun with pre-Thanksgiving sales that don’t require you to be the first person through the door on Black Friday.

Whenever you shop for holiday gifts, it can be worthwhile to comparison shop and to not fall for a “deal” on Black Friday.  Before Thanksgiving, do your homework on how much that new TV or the latest toy for your nephew should cost, because it could help you save more money than any Black Friday sale could.

Your Money Coach can help you create a budget for the holiday season.  With guidance and accountability, you can make smart everyday decisions when it comes to finances.  Call 888-724-2326 to get started.

 

1“Retailers Made Black Friday Irresistible for Consumers With Great Deals, Online and In-Store.”  National Retail Federation, 27 Nov. 2016, https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/retailers-made-black-friday-irresistible-consumers-great-deals-online-and-store.  Accessed 7 Sept. 2017.