Black Friday: How The Retail Industry Stole Thanksgiving

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Black Friday: How The Retail Industry Stole Thanksgiving

Black Friday: A day when the average shopper undergoes a twisted transformation, as if the emergence of red sales tags triggers the uprising of zombie shoppers, desperately huuuunnngryyy fooorr baaaargaains. The brave venture out at 4 a.m. to hit the sales; the crazy camp on the sidewalks hours before; and the naive eagerly try a hand at their first Black Friday mid-afternoon "adventure."

This bargain hunter’s dream (that teeters on the brink of nightmare) is not for the weak of heart. It usually takes careful planning, lack of sleep, at least five cups of coffee and the steely resolve to not back down. You put yourself through the sea of forgotten manners because this special day comes just once a year, right?

Actually, there are plenty of other days — practically every day, including Cyber Monday, the Internet’s equivalent of Black Friday — if you know where to look. Coupon Mountain, an online resource dedicated to helping consumers save money, offers an extensive array of discount codes, deals, promotions and sales. Best of all, these reliable savings are available year-round in one, easy-to-navigate place. They’re also updated regularly and don’t require a lengthy registration process to access the coupons.

Are electronics on your shopping list? Current hot deals include $10 off online orders $50 or more at HP and 25 percent off featured laptops at Dell. Looking for toys and game consoles for holiday gifts? Earn 10 percent off $75 at Kmart, or $25 off orders of $125 or more.

So, what’s the moral of the story? The truth is, Black Friday isn’t as worthwhile as it used to be. To stay competitive, online retailers and coupon providers like Coupon Mountain have comparable — many times, even better — deals throughout the year, particularly just before and during the holiday season. And shoppers are catching on.

In an effort to lure bargain hunters who may have otherwise skipped the Black Friday madness, retailers are going one step further in their guerrilla-like tactics. Forget about Thanksgiving’s traditional values of gratitude and family bonding; in 2012, Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Toys R Us and Gap were the first-ever big retailers to open their doors on Thanksgiving.

This year, additional stores will join in on the Thursday fun, pushing even earlier opening times. Best Buy will open its doors at 6 p.m.; Toys R Us will open at 5 p.m.; and Old Navy will replace sister store Gap in opening early (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., before select stores will reopen at 7 p.m.). As for the most holiday-spirited of them all? K-Mart will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, inviting shoppers to participate in a 41-hour Black Friday marathon. It’s safe to assume some employees – and their loved ones – are far from happy.

I experienced my first Black Friday a couple of years ago. I waited with two friends outside and watched the sunrise for a storewide half-off deal. A mere two weeks later, the store had the exact same deal on the products I had purchased. This time, however, it was the middle of the day, there was no three-hour line, and I wasn’t suffering from an extreme turkey-induced food coma.

It was also my last Black Friday.

Fellow consumers, I urge you to shop smart this holiday season. Instead of subjecting yourself to the terrors of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, spend time with your loved ones on Thanksgiving and the days thereafter. Sleep in, avoid the zombie crowds, score a better deal from Coupon Mountain and have that heavy TV conveniently delivered to your front door — whenever you please.

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