Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the media, in concert with most retailers, is amping up the pressure on everybody to go out and buy stuff.
America’s retailers actually started the “Black Friday” hype weeks ago with promo emails, full page spreads in newspapers, television spots, and social media ads, so the term “Black Friday” is even more of a misnomer now than it used to be.
“Black Friday” has seemingly evolved into “Shop Till You Drop November”.
Still, the day after Thanksgiving continues to be breathlessly promoted as a day to head to the store to get great deals — or go online and do the same. (“Cyber Monday”, for all intents and purposes, is just an extension of “Black Friday”).
With all of the pressure to BUY, BUY, BUY!, it’s worth remembering there is no law that says you have to go out and make a purchase today. Much of what’s being advertised as on sale or a good deal isn’t actually a good deal.
We all know the drill by now.
Retailers’ sales promotions begin weeks before Thanksgiving, with a smattering of modest deals that eventually build up to the shopping bonanza that is Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving.
That is followed by Cyber Monday, a so-called online shopping extravaganza that takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend.
To whet shoppers’ appetites further, it has become increasingly fashionable for online retailers to build up anticipation for Black Friday with so-called flash deals. These last only a few hours, putting pressure on consumers to make purchases with little or no research.
Yet, however you shop, the chances of snatching a great deal for a quality item are slim, largely because Black Friday is mainly for retailers to clear out unwanted goods and because best-selling products rarely drop much in price.
Emphasis is ours.
Serious bargain hunters know that Black Friday/Cyber Monday is simply not the deal-clinching opportunity it’s portrayed to be in mass media. Years of reputable research supports the conclusion that Black Friday is a good day not to shop.
Shop Till You Drop November is all about exaggerated discounts. Check the price history of an on-sale item with a tool like CamelCamelCamel, and you may find the item had a significantly lower price at a different time of the year. It pays to do your homework before parting ways with your hard-earned money.
But an even better idea is to not worry about buying new stuff at all, at least not today. The day after Thanksgiving is a great day for activities like:
- Going on a hike (as REI suggests with its Opt Outside campaign)
- Visiting with family and friends
- Playing a board game
Instead of going shopping, enjoy the possessions you already have, and learn something about where they came from by watching The Story of Stuff:
There will be plenty of time to pick up gifts, if you’re so inclined, before the winter holidays hit. We’re a month away from Christmas and Hanukkah. And retailers aren’t going to stop inviting you to browse their wares between now and then.