Friday, November 20, 2009

How To Thrive and Survive “Black Friday”

With Thanksgiving looming, some may be thinking about their holiday shopping needs.  Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving has been a large one for retailers.  It is the day that many become “in the black” on their balance sheets.  Since Friday follows Thanksgiving, the name “Black Friday” was born.
While history has shown that many deals abound during this time, it also has unfortunately proven to be a very dangerous time to shop, literally.  Last year, an unruly crowd searching for bargains killed an unfortunate Wal Mart security guard after trampling him.  Read the story, I am not making this up.  With hard times right now, I am willing to bet that violence is almost certainly going to recur this year over deals.  One of the factors that continues to fuel the surging of shopping post Turkey day, besides the flagging economy, is the plethora of websites devoted to discussing Black Friday deals.  This site contains digitally scanned circulars from retailers, such as Wal Mart, that supposedly have been leaked or otherwise made available albeit a little earlier than intended.  While it is more fun to think that a disgruntled employee leaked these circulars, or they were obtained by other surreptitious means, I would not be surprised if they are intentionally done so to drum up sales.  Regardless, I hope people shop often (if they have the means) and employ my myriad savings techniques discussed on the blog to stimulate our flagging economy.   
Nevertheless, I won’t be shopping on Black Friday for several reasons: 1) I can wait; 2) I prefer to shop online when I can for a number of reasons; 3) the deals will be better after the holidays; 4) I am not a big fan of crowds, especially potentially violent ones; 5) I don't like to wait in line, idling my car and wasting gas, and maybe even paying for parking.  

Sure, shopping at home can cost you in shipping, but saving time and hassles can mitigate that cost differential.  Besides, would not you rather spend more time with loved ones?  Moreover, in a frenzied shopping environment, I would not count on getting much, if any, customer service.  If you are going to shop on Black Friday, I would recommend having a list of where exactly you want to go and what you are looking for to minimize any impulse buying; looking for an alternative route home to avoid traffic; leaving your kids at home, if possible; and the moment something doesn’t sound right with customers, step swiftly out of their direction lest a riot ensues.