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 naïve 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? And when else can you score such a great deal for a 43-inch, 720p plasma high-definition TV?
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 $20 off online orders $100 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 on items at Kmart, in addition to an extra $5 off qualifying orders of $45 or more. And what about that so-called awesome Black Friday deal on a 43-inch, 720p plasma high-definition television set? Coupon Mountain offers $100 off a 55-inch, 1080p, LED 3-D HDTV. Sounds like a better deal, if you ask me.
So, what’s the moral of the story? The truth is, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t as worthwhile as they 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.
According to the Google Advertising Blog, spending statistics in 2011 reveal a fluctuating holiday forecast. Once upon a time, consumers started shelling out the big bucks on Black Friday and continued to do so until either the week before Christmas or on Christmas Eve. But times, they are a-changin’. MasterCard SpendingPulse reported the major sales volume dates last year started on November 5, not Black Friday.
This year, 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: Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Toys R Us and Gap will open their doors as early as 8 or 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, reports CNBC.
Unsurprisingly, employees aren’t too pleased about losing their day off work. An online petition, started by a Target employee, asks the popular retailer to “take the highroad and save Thanksgiving.” It already boasts more than 360,000 signatures. What’s more, a retail expert warns CNBC readers the Thursday night opening is likely to disappoint shoppers with subpar or unavailable deals, staggered throughout Thursday and Friday.
So, does this mean shoppers may not fall prey to the marketing ploys of Black Friday or Cyber Monday? I can only hope.
I experienced my first Black Friday a year 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.