I loathe the very concept of Black Friday. I can’t tell you who is having what sale, because I don’t care. When a solicitation arrives in the mail proclaiming amazing doorbuster deals, it goes immediately into the trash.
But Black Friday has phenomenal deals! “You’re the Frugal Fashionista,” you gasp. Surely, I — of all people — would promote Black Friday’s shenanigans and advise you on how to save even more.
I live to disappoint, I’m afraid.
I avoid Black Friday like the plague. By avoid, I mean I don’t even leave the house.
Here is why I avoid Black Friday “sales”:
The Power of Marketing
I’ve worked in marketing and promotions. I know how this goes. People will fall all over themselves — and apparently others — to save 40% off an item they didn’t need to begin with but must have.
I understand the power of the discount. But do your research first and read the fine print.
Stores purposely understock on higher-priced items to bring people into the store. Those doorbuster freebies to the first 100 or so people who walk through the door are nothing more than those cheaply-made promotional items a business buys in bulk. Most of the sales are not even good sales. Stores don’t mark down everything. If they do, it’s for a limited time only. It’s often the junk they couldn’t sell before.
The better sales are usually online or during a different time of year. The jacket you have in your basket for 40% off will be 75% off as early as December 26 for the semi-annual sale. If you are on their mailing list, there may be combinable discounts.
There’s also the risk that the discounted items are cheaply made. It may be 50% off, but it’s still a mark up. Paying too much for a cheaply-made product is not frugal. It’s desperate.
You know how you load up your Amazon cart with extra items, so you can meet the free shipping requirement? Anyone?
Black Friday is the Amazon cart of the holiday shopping season. Spend this much a get a free incentive with purchase. See the small items teasing you from the register while you wait in line for forever? Wouldn’t it make cute a stocking stuffer?
Retailers work strategically to make you spend more, whether it’s the add-on products at the register, endcaps at eye-level, or large colorful signs. Black Friday is THE day most retailers make up their losses for the year. They look at projections, previous sales figures, and potential traffic.
They prey on the unsuspecting. It’s all business, of course. They have mouths to feed. But so do you.
If you want to shop on Black Friday, research the products and go with a spending limit and plan. Don’t forget to stick to the plan.
I worked in retail. There’s nothing more depressing than the anxiety and dread that comes with rearranging your plans, so you can go to bed early and wake up at 4:30 a.m. Obviously, this was before Thursday sales.
We have essentially erased Thanksgiving. This saddens me. I love Thanksgiving. I love the premise. I love the food. I love the camaraderie. I love the Macy’s parade.
Why can’t we just be and enjoy?
The holidays are stressful. Black Friday promotes meanness. If you work in retail, you know what I mean. Something about the bustle of the holidays causes people to show their claws.
The spirit of the holidays is a marketing ploy by corporations. It no longer exists.
I refuse to participate on Black Friday on moral grounds. This is not the Christmas memory I want to create. It drains me.
You may feel differently, and that’s fine. I know several families that shop together and make it into a huge event. It’s a tradition in the same way I drink Martinelli’s with Thanksgiving dinner. To each their own.
But if you want to avoid Black Friday, how do you do it?
- Plan for the holidays on December 26. Watch for sales all year round and start shopping early.
- If you do shop on Black Friday, create a very specific, well-researched plan.
- Shop at local stores and online.
- Avoid it altogether if you have a spending addiction.
- Take a sensible person with you who will monitor your spending.
- Take up crafting and create gifts.
- Gift cards. You can buy them online now. You can buy them at the gas station too.
- Don’t feed into other people’s expectations (I’m looking at you mothers). Children don’t remember many gifts. They remember memories. They also remember negative emotions and conflicts.
- Create a new way to give gifts. I know families who give one gift and give the rest of their money to a charity of their choosing. When I worked for Disney, parents would purchase a gift as a visual representation of a Disney trip, like a gift certificate for souvenirs. This year, my husband and I are toying with an idea. We only give each other gifts that can fit into a stocking. We’re creative people, and it’s exciting to see what we can imagine.
- Create experiences. This requires a great degree of thoughtfulness. Gift a movie night or spa day at home. Make a cookie-baking kit. You can find several ideas on Pinterest. Most are cost-effective and require little assembly.