Black Friday Is a Scam
This isn’t a post about how to avoid scammers on Black Friday (though, there will be plenty of those, so watch out). It’s about how the whole event is an over-hyped, panic-inducing marketing blitz to which we should not subscribe. (You hear me, Big Retail? I don’t believe those LEGOs will only be $9 off for one day. I know better.)
Can you get deals on Black Friday? Absolutely. Can you get the same deals—or better—other days of the year? And do these discounts start before Black Friday and extend into the second week of December? 100 percent. As the Motley Fool points out, “While Black Friday may be known for offering the lowest prices of the year, in reality, it’s one of the worst times to shop.”
But…but, this 5-quart Air Fryer is only $84.99, you might think. That’s $30 off! We totally understand the glee of snagging a discount, but let’s explore why getting up at the asscrack of dawn to elbow other shoppers (literally or figuratively) isn’t worth your time.
Low quantities of sale items
How can retailers offer such amazing deals and still turn a profit? By luring you into their product lair with in-demand items offered “on sale” (i.e., some dollar amount off their usual price, but still well above the cost to them). Problem is, there’s a limited quantity of that sale item, and when they run out, you’re still in that store or on that website with a gnawing psychological need to check at least one gift off your list—to buy something. Good thing there are thousands of other products within arm’s reach. (That you didn’t plan for and aren’t deeply discounted, if at all.)
As Linda Sakraida, director of content marketing for DealNews told CNBC, “The reason Black Friday exists is to bring you in with the really cheap, rock-bottom prices in the hopes that you do jump on those filler deals while you’re there. Being really aware of that and trying to avoid that temptation is important.”
Remember: If you spend $60 to buy something on sale that you don’t need, that’s not saving money, it’s spending $60 that otherwise could have stayed in your bank account for something else.
Sale items may be of lower quality
Did you know that retailers partner with manufacturers to create lower-quality versions of popular, well-known products (called “derivatives”) for the sole purpose of selling them on Black Friday? Well, they do.
Motley Fool exposes this practice around high-end TVs—using the example of the “Best Buy exclusive” Samsung 60-inch Ultra HD 4K TV—that’s only available at one retailer, and has just appeared on the market. (That’s a big red flag for a derivative product that is likely made with substandard parts, despite the brand name.) Walmart makes it even harder to figure out what’s for sale ahead of time by advertising TV sales without disclosing the brands or models.
Black Friday is actually like three weeks long
According to Deal News, “Most sales tend to start the week of Black Friday and continue through the weekend to the following week.” In other words, the deals, they creep. Unless there’s some specific, limited-edition, niche product you’re obsessed with that will only be available that day, there’s no need to wait in a freezing, round-the-corner line for discounts.
What used to simply be “Cyber Monday” (the Monday after Thanksgiving) has now morphed into “Cyber Week.” (Remember 2020, when we all stayed home? That was rough on retailers, too. We can expect them to go to great lengths to outdo their competitors by offering lengthier sales this holiday season.)
(Side note: U.S News reports that May, October, and December—in addition to November—offer the best deals on cars. Flat-screen TVs also see deep discounts the week before the Super Bowl. Need some jewelry on sale? Valentine’s Day has fantastic deals, as does the month of July.)
Are there some legit Black Friday savings to be had? Yes. But the idea that we should scramble to hastily amass discounted product the day after Thanksgiving is absurd. There’s still ample opportunity to save money on gifts for the whole family, well after (or before) the last turkey leftovers are eaten.
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