The ads for Black Friday sales start earlier every year, spurring us into excitement and anxiety over the coming holiday season before we’ve even bought our Halloween candy.
The concept of “Friday” gets broader each year too. In recent years Macy’s has lead a pack of stores that opened on Thursday at 6 p.m. The retail industry has good reason for this arms race: They’re generally counting on holiday shopping to account for 19 percent of their annual revenue.
But is there good reason for you, the consumer, to clear your Thanksgiving table by lunchtime and get in line for the sales madness? It’s time to engage in another newish holiday tradition, debating whether Black Friday is worth it. We say, YES … if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
You Enjoy Shopping as Sport
You love hunting down the best deal, talking to all the other people in line about the best deal, and shoving them out of the way so you can get to the best deal. Crowds are no problem. Stores are your favorite habitat, and every dollar you save is multiplied by the factor of the great stories you will tell your loved ones about how you bought their presents. If you don’t enjoy it, divide the money you’d save at these sales (maybe $100?) by the number of hours you’re spending there. Is that what your time is worth?
You Want “Doorbuster” Big-Ticket Items
Because other than those TVs, game consoles and the like, the sale prices aren’t necessarily the lowest they’ll be all season. The Wall Street Journal and Decide Inc. analyzed prices throughout the years and discovered that some items (like blenders) will just get cheaper if you wait until closer to Christmas. Some of those advertised sale items, particularly popular children’s toys, are less expensive if you buy them in October. And if you want a really good deal on a fancy watch, buy it in March.
You Have Tremendous Self-Control
Stores like Best Buy (another of those on the 6 p.m. Thursday bandwagon) will make money on you by selling the TV at cost, and loading your cart with all of the accessories and other smaller items that aren’t discounted at all. Also, if the store has advertised that the sale on the item you want is “only while supplies last”, will you have the strength not to buy something else? If you can manage to get in and out of the place without those, you’ve won.
You Are an Extremely Rational Person
If you have invested a lot of time and effort in buying something at a Black Friday sale, and you’re not satisfied with the product, will you find it in your heart to return it? If you’re rational and clear-headed, yes, you will. If you’re going to get emotionally involved with a purchase, stay home.
You’re Physically Tough
Some say the term Black Friday originated with the Philadelphia Police Department, who called it that because of all the traffic accidents that occurred on the first day of holiday shopping. Maybe that’s apocryphal, but this Black Friday Death Count sure isn’t.
You Don’t Have a Computer
Three years ago Target.com offered the exact same deals online as people were braving the crowds for in stores, and Amazon was meeting a lot of brick and mortar sale prices too. Obviously, you’re reading this, so you have the means of doing a quick price check before heading out into battle. Again, if you’re not a big fan of the sport of shopping, Cyber Monday looks pretty inviting.
Your Loved Ones Work in Retail
Last year Macy’s sayid its employees were part of the decision to open early on Thursday evening, because they really like the bonus pay. How convenient! Still, a list of stores proudly boasted that they wouldn’t open on the holiday because they want to give employees a break. Anyway, if your loved ones are stuck working on Thursday and Friday, you might as well join them in the stores and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
You Don’t Really Like Your Family All That Much
Or, well, you need a break from them. What better excuse to get out of hanging out on the couch after the Thanksgiving feast than to tell everyone you’re off to buy them presents?