NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 25th, 2016

It’s the day after Thanksgiving: a good day to “Opt Outside” and buy nothing

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.

As Bri­an Chen recent­ly not­ed in a piece for the New York Times:

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:

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.

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