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Why I Skip Black Friday

One of the big rituals of the Thanksgiving weekend, one among many, is Black Friday. If you’ve been living in a cave for the last ten years, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving where retailers deeply discount a few items in the hopes that people come to the stores in the early hours and spend a lot of money. It’s been muted in recent years because of the economic slowdown but every year there’s still a lot of attention on it. It’s called Black Friday because it’s supposedly when retailers turn a profit on the year. The “black” in Black Friday, in this case, is a good thing (unlike every other time Black [Day] is used).

You have several classes of “deals” on Black Friday – regular sales and deeply discounted items. The deeply discounted items have limited availability and you usually need to get there as the store opens, which will be very early in the morning, to get them. The regular sales are your “doorbuster” types that last until 11am or noon.

The last time I did any Black Friday early morning shopping was back in the late 2000’s when I was home on break from college. One of the electronic stores, like an Office Depot or Best Buy, had a Kodak digital camera on sale for $99. I waited in line outside of the store, it was a mad house (it’s insane how crazy people get over things). I got the camera, it was totally not worth it, and I vow never to do it again… and here’s why.

The Crowds Are Insane

What happens when you put a bunch of cranky people together fighting over some discounted products? Insanity.

People will do some stupid things for the opportunity to buy something cheap. Just think of the scenes in movies where you have NATO distributing food to impoverished locals and those crowds are probably calmer than Black Friday shoppers. Don’t believe me? In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee died [3] when shoppers broke down the doors to a Wal-Mart and trampled him. They weren’t handing out diamonds or bars of gold, it was a Wal-Mart! There’s no other word to describe that other than insanity. (a 28-year old pregnant woman and three other shoppers suffered injuries at that Wal-Mart that day)

Too Many People

There will be a lot of people. That means you’ll have to fight through the crowd to get what you want, if it’s still available, and you’ll have to wait eons in line to check out. If you’re lucky and you get out of the store with what you wanted, you’ll probably have to face a little bit of traffic to get out of the lot and home. All that to save a few bucks on something, that’s if you get it, seems like a steep price to pay.

You Can Shop Online

Cyber Monday is the Monday right after Black Friday and it’s the online equivalent, though the deals usually aren’t as good as in the stores. The best part about all this is that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads will have been leaked online so you can do a little research to find out which is better in terms of cash savings. I personally find shopping online to be easier since you can avoid the crowds. You might have to get up early (or stay up late) to take advantage of but it beats getting dressed, trudging out into the cold, and fighting crowds for the chance to buy some discounted stuff.

Do you plan on participating in Black Friday? Or Cyber Monday?