This Friday morning most of us will be waking up with a Thanksgiving hangover from too much food. This gorging holiday makes many of us just want to stay home and relax, until you realize it is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Which also means two things as the consumer. The first is that many of us will be spending most of this month’s paychecks we’ve earned this month by the time we go to bed Friday. The second is that we will regret about 50 percent of what we buy on Black Friday.
But before we look at how to minimize these negative effects on Black Friday, here is a message for male readers: Black Friday is as big a deal for you as it is for our fearless counterparts. When else can you get an Xbox 360 bundle package for $199? Or those car stereos with remote and DVD player for $99, and free installation? For the guys out there, you need to recognize that Black Friday is potentially just as dangerous for you as it is for women, so this article applies to you, too.
Now, let’s tackle the basics of Black Friday. Many stores are going to have very enticing sales (Kohl’s refers to them as “Power Hours”) and you are going to want to take advantage of them. Now you can look at this in one of two ways. The first is, “I’m there!” And the second is, “That’s not such a great deal, so I’ll go another time.” Either option is perfectly fine.
If you go with the first option (I’m there), make sure to bring a list of what gifts you need, and for who. If you see something that is not on your list, put it on your list for next time. This helps avoid impulse shopping, which is a huge mistake on a day like Black Friday. If you truly need that item (whether it is for you or a gift for someone you “forgot”) then there’s no problem putting it on your list for next time. Then, when you go out shopping again later, you’ll pick it up or you might just scratch it off because it turns out you really did not need that item (surprise!).
Also, remember to pre-shop around for the items prior to going to the store, so you know whether it really is a good deal or not. Many merchants will either put ads/inserts in your local newspaper or online-telling of sales. Don’t let them scam you. Sometimes, to prepare for a Black Friday sale, retailers will mark up a few items for a month or so before and after the holidays, so when they put the the item on sale, they can mark it back down to what their regular price is the other nine months of the year. Walmart is notorious for this with their “Watch For Falling Prices” campaign.
Finally, if you are going to tackle Black Friday, know thyself. If things like big lines, a ton of people, or jammed parking lots annoy you, go shopping after 2 p.m. Most of the “early bird” specials will be over by then. Now granted you may have to pay a little bit more, but you won’t be so frustrated.
If you go with the second mentality (another time), you really have nothing to worry about, except that you might find a better deal. A little-known holiday secret: on Christmas Eve between noon and store closing hours is when you can typically get the BEST deals. This is especially true if you are one of those “cute people” who -like to buy holiday-theme gifts, such as the ones with a year on it (think: Hallmark ornament). This is because, come Dec. 26, when the stores reopen, all these items will be considered outdated, so the retailers deeply discount this merchandise to try to get it off their shelves. A lot a time, they put it by the registers – where impulse buys are most likely to be while waiting to check out.
Additionally, many of will suffer buyer’s remorse. If you encounter regret from something you bought, are shopping for, or an impulse buy, here are four ways you can try that will help defuse the situation:
1) The item is always returnable, provided it is unopened.
2) Do not open the item, and use it as a gift in the future. Chances are if you enjoy it, so will someone else!
3) Take a friend shopping with you. Usually we do less impulse buying when we have accountability of someone to answer to right there on the spot.
4) Don’t try to justify why you should keep it. The minute you feel regret, get to the return line. Waiting will give you time to justify your actions.
Remember the three things about Black Friday: First, it is OK not to get all your shopping done on Black Friday, there is still plenty of time afterward. Second, it is OK to participate in the crazy mayhem of Black Friday with a friend, as it helps with accountability. Lastly, it is OK to buy a little something for yourself – but have it on your list so it’s something you need and not an impulse buy.
Always remember to relax, and think of WHY we put ourselves through all this trouble: to make those we care about happy. Don’t stress; there is still plenty of time before Christmas – if you are reading this on Black Friday, you have 29 days left for shopping, less time if you are reading this and Black Friday has already passed.