The day after Thanksgiving, the malls will bustling, lines will be long, and Worldstar Hip-Hop will see dozens more fistfight videos than usual. But amid all the crowds, the waiting, and the other “joys” of the first shopping day of Christmas, a question emerges: Is it all worth it? Based on the Black Fridays of yore, and how this shopping day generally works, here are a few predictions about what’ll be for sale and what to expect.
- The Black Friday deals won’t necessarily be the best, but there are good deals to be had. Keep in mind that a deal, in this case, is a price lower than you can get from Amazon. You should always, before making a Black Friday purchase, check to ensure you can’t get it cheaper. A WalletHub study looking at a wide range of products for 2016’s Black Friday found that the vast majority, 78%, had a discount they deemed “significant.”
- That said, expect the biggest deals on the bulkiest and most expensive items, especially if they aren’t luxury goods. That same study, though, found that, aside from video games, the items that had the most significant discounts were big-ticket items like furniture, appliances, computers, and phones. Unless you’re getting everybody an iPhone X and a couch for Christmas, you’re not going to get all the shopping done on Black Friday.
- As usual, let the buyer beware. In an article for Bankrate, the founder and CEO of DealNews.com sums up Black Friday thusly: “It’s about cheap stuff at cheap prices.” Look closely at the Black Friday circulars leaking; have you ever heard of half the brands they’re selling? This isn’t to say you can’t find quality stuff, or that brand names are always better. But corners get cut to hit those price targets, in many cases, so you may not be getting a quality product. Also, this is the time of year when retailers slap deep discounts on last year’s stuff just to get it off the shelves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you don’t want the most up-to-date or fashionable stuff, but look at the box and know what you’re buying.
- Keep in mind, ‘Black Friday’ isn’t just limited to Friday. Major retailers know that not everybody wants to wreck the malls, so they’ve rolled out Black Friday deals early. And, of course, online retailers like Amazon are also fighting for your buck, so if all you want is a deal, this weekend might be a better time to shop. Not only that, there will be deals all throughout the Christmas season, so the odds you’re missing out are low.
- If you do go, you’ll need a plan. While the idea of businesses and stores can “make” you buy things is a bit of an exaggeration, keep in mind retail stores have spent decades studying how to encourage your desire to buy. And Black Friday, with its crowds and almost-too-good-to-be-true deals, just adds another layer of manipulation to that. Don’t show up with a credit card and a vague goal. Have a list, a budget, and a plan, and stick to all three.
Of course, kicking back is also a viable option, because hey, you’re still stuffed from Thanksgiving? If you are considering Black Friday, take a hard look at the deals and ask yourself if it’s stuff you really want, or if you’re just getting caught up in the consumerism of the season. Remember, there are always going to be deals. It’s just a question of whether what you have to endure to get those deals is worth it.