Companies boast big savings every year on Black Friday, but do consumers actually save money by participating in the annual event?
The short answer is “Yes, but…”
In a few weeks, thousands of Americans will overcrowd stores and overbuy $45 billion worth of products. The average shopper bought $365 of goods last year on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.
However, there are several reasons to believe the savings - or, perhaps, lack thereof - on Black Friday do not make the post-Thanksgiving tradition worth it.
Some experts say most deals just aren’t good enough.
“These days, more and more Black Friday deals are available online as well as in-store,” wrote DealNews.com. “Couple that with the fact that many Black Friday doorbusters are either matched or beaten later in the season, and you can only conclude that it’s not worth camping out for Black Friday specials.”
Many retailers will lure consumers into their stores with seemingly phenomenal deals on one group of products, in the hope that those shoppers will buy many other items whilst in their store.
“Consumers should always consider how valuable the item is to them,” Julia Scott, shopping expert and executor of BargainBabe.com, told TheStreet. “If you are never going to use that item, even if it’s worth $1,100 and you get it for $300, that’s still a waste of money.”
Or, stores hope that customers will succumb to shopping-induced adrenalin blindness and buy other products at full price.
“Stores seem to be just pushing the early envelope to create an urgency, hoping people will buy early before realizing they've spent too much," said consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch, to TheStreet. "There are lots of big sales out there, but it doesn't seem there are more of them than in the past."
Black Friday shoppers also have to deal with aggressive co-shoppers and at times angry store employees, not to mention such obstacles as mental math and dignity maintenance.
This year promises to bring new opportunities for Black Friday shoppers. Target, Macy’s and Wal-Mart all announced sales beginning at midnight.
As an alternative to Black Friday, Cyber Monday allows consumers to participate in great deals from the comfort of their homes. Many companies offer free shipping in addition to standard savings.
Experts say consumers should create lists and research prices before heading out for Black Friday shopping.
As for the savings? It seems for those who value great deals, Black Friday is as good as any major weekend sale. For those who value time and peace of mind, it might just be best to get their shopping done now.