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Black Friday Is Overexposed And Overrated

11/29/2013

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Black Friday used to be magic. It was ‘the day after Thanksgiving’ that was the official kick-off of the holiday (which used to be Christmas) shopping season. And it was the day, for many retailers, revenue took the books from a loss (or red) into profit (or black).

Back then Black Friday was a term used internally by retailers.

Today marketers and retailers have diluted Black Friday into monochromatic mush.

First there the overuse of Black Friday. Search for the words black friday on Google – yields a cool 2.1 billion results. Everyone is in the game of Black Friday. There’s even a Black Friday at the local tire shop. WTF? And do we really need 67 Black Friday inserts in Thursday’s edition of the paper? That’s what the Denver Post had to offer its subscribers yesterday.

But for retailers and marketers the real problem is Black Friday is overrated. Here a few reasons why:

Black Friday isn’t the biggest shopping day of the year—it’s just the most crowded. Traditionally, the biggest retail shopping day of the year is the weekend before Christmas. What Black Friday may actually be is the busiest retail day for window shopping. I’ll be fine missing the crowds, thank you.

Savings occur only in specific product categories. Whether or not Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best days for sales depends on what you’re buying. The Wall Street Journal tracked several popular gift items over the year and found that Black Friday is only the best bet if you’re buying certain Apple products, Xboxes, and items that retailers overestimated demand for and now have a surplus of.

Buying gifts earlier in the year may actually save you more money. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are bad bets if you want to find Ugg boots, watches, or jewelry under the tree, as these items went up in price as the year wore on. In one case last year, the average price of a 46-inch Samsung flat-screen TV went up a whopping $200 between October and Black Friday.

Wait long enough and prices will often drop more significantly. Sometimes it’s best to wait past Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With a shortened holiday (Christmas) shopping season this year panicky retailers are likely to drop prices by 20 to 40%  in December. So if getting the best deal really is your goal, you shouldn’t go shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In making Black Friday an ‘event’ retailers are forced to make up deals that really aren’t that great. In a 2012 report titled “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal,” the Wall Street Journal reported that hundreds of gifts from Barbie dolls to blenders are priced below Black Friday levels at other times, especially later on in the Christmas season.

It checked prices at 50 retailers, and said once you remove a few Midnight “doorbuster” deals, prices on many items tend to be lower two weeks before Christmas.

So instead of joining the lemmings at the mall, use the day after Thanksgiving to work out, start on the Christmas decorations, visit someone you haven’t seen for a while, volunteer, get caught up on reading or work – anything but shopping. You’ll feel better at the end of the day today – guarenteed!

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