The diehard Black Friday shoppers had their game plans in place well before the Thanksgiving Day advertising inserts that officially came out today. In some cases, they are a different breed who camp out in front of stores days in advance for the chance to be first in line for what everyone assumes are great deals.
Then there are plenty of people who sit out the shopping frenzy. They have their reasons. Some object to stores pushing the shopping season earlier and earlier. This year, it starts on the evening or late afternoon of the holiday. Some people don’t like that it takes employees away from their families.
Or they just want to avoid the crowds, noise and confusion at stores and malls.
But everybody does have some shopping to do — and many people are thrilled at getting a bargain while not needing to be among the first in a store.
Some shop for the social occasion, family and friends spending time together at a happy time of year.
It is with those people in mind that I compiled this list of facts and opinions about Black Friday and the Thanksgiving Day creep (no one has come up with a name for Turkey Day shopping that has stuck).
The thought was to interview some retail experts to confirm some things as FACT and debunk other notions as FICTION. So digest these along with your holiday meal:
• It’s the biggest shopping day of the year with the biggest crowds. FACT.
“The crowds are huge,” said Jody Rohlena, deputy editor of ShopSmart, the shopping magazine created by Consumer Reports. Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), concurs.
ICSC surveys reveal that 46 percent of consumers are planning to shop around Black Friday, which is up from last year at 33 percent. Additionally, 13 percent said they plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
• I can only get good deals on Black Friday and now Thanksgiving Day. FICTION.
“There will be deals [on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day], but that’s not the only day,” said Rohlena.
Said Tron: “It depends on what great deals you’re talking about.” Items called doorbuster deals typically are limited to just a few units per store.
But retailers have begun spacing out those sales over Thanksgiving Day and at different hours throughout the night and early Friday morning.
There will be other offerings, too, said Rohlena, including on Saturday and Sunday.
Said Rohlena: “There will be something on sale whenever you go shopping.”
• I didn’t start camping outside Best Buy 10 days ago and I wasn’t crazy enough to forgo my Thanksgiving meal to get in line. I should just forget it since I’ll miss out on the deals. FICTION.
Rohlena notes that promotions are different from discounting. This is planned marketing no matter how sales are going.
“If you need to get a 47-inch TV for $100, then you’ve got to be in line. If you’re interested in overall good deals and you don’t want to pay full retail, sure, it’s worth it. It’s whatever your pressure point is on price.”
• I can just stay in my PJs and get good deals online. FACT and FICTION.
There are good deals online and retailers want online sales, but again, if you want the super doorbuster deals, you’ll have to stand outside in line, said Tron.
Rohlena stopped shopping on Black Friday once she started working for ShopSmart. The New Yorker acknowledges that she’s not looking for the big-ticket doorbusters and she prefers shopping online and shipping unique presents to her family in Iowa or shopping on what is called Small Business Saturday.
Rohlena said she believes people will have more choices online and will see different specials. She doesn’t think there will be rock-bottom prices like in the stores, but “very good markdowns on products they have plenty of.”
She said Cyber Monday (a big online shopping day after Black Friday) is trending to turn into Cyber Week as the activity continues.
• The only great deals are the doorbusters and they’re limited and often off-brand items. FACT AND FICTION.
Rohlena and Tron said they’ve heard and seen both brand items and off-brand items on doorbuster sales. Most sell out quickly either way, said Tron.
Rohlena said it’s important to check the quality ratings of all brands.
Here are a few other factual thoughts:
Price matching: Rohlena suggests finding out ahead of time whether stores will honor price matches. Sometimes products such as electronics are difficult to obtain a match since manufacturers can make specific models for a particular retailer.
Comparison-pricing apps and websites: Asked for some of her favorites, Rohlena likes Red Laser and Pricegrabber, which allow a smartphone and UPC code to compare prices. Rohlena uses Pricegrabber at home to avoid going to the wrong store looking for a product or making a comparison. (Red Laser is only an app for phones).
Avoid stress: “I think people feel overwhelmed. There’s all this hype,” said Rohlena. “People feel like, ‘I’m missing out. I don’t know what to do.’
“Combat that shopping is a chore with a reality check. You don’t have to do any of these things. If you do a couple, you’re going to feel like you saved money and you didn’t drive yourself crazy.”