Is Black Friday Worth It?

Well, let me be the last person to say Happy Thanksgiving! I am not doing a weekly recap this week since last week was Thanksgiving and I was traveling and visiting some family and let’s just say wasn’t as keen on keeping up with my finances as I normally am.  This is one of my favorite times of the year, aside from the fact that I hate the cold of course.  It’s always fun to see old friends and catch up on what everyone has been doing. Plus, it’s a high school reunion at every townie bar where I grew up so its never short of stories and laughs.  It goes without saying this time of the year also can add up to be the most expensive time of the year for many.

As tradition dictates, the day after Thanksgiving is the famous Black Friday. I know a thing or two about Black Friday as I worked at Best Buy from when I was 16-19 and then Circuit City for a few years after that until they went out of business. I have had my fair share of Black Friday experiences.  One year I was visiting family with my Dad in California and we flew back overnight after Thanksgiving and I went from Logan Airport right to my Circuit City at 2:30am to start working for what typically ended up being 23.5hrs.  Truth is, I loved working that day. I loved the chaos and excitement, call my crazy, but a bunch of us did.  Keep in mind this was a short 5ish years ago, but 5 years ago electronic sales were different then they are today. Amazon wasn’t as commonplace and people still did shop around Circuit, Best Buy and Sears for deals.  With all that, is Black Friday really worth it?

Electronics – This is the category I have the most first-hand experience with.  Working in the stores for 5 or 6 Black Friday’s I have seen the deals and I have seen the shoppers and their habits.  For anyone who does Black Friday you know it’s absolutely crazy. Pushing, shoving, swearing, yelling, you name it.  So are the deals worth it? I took a look at many of the deals this year over at SlickDeals and to be honest, I was not impressed. First, as many know, television manufacturers are beginning to enforce a universal pricing policy (UPP) to level the playing field between online and brick and mortar.  This takes away from most of the “deal” you used to see at one store versus another.  Second, I noticed that most of the large discounts weren’t cash discounts, rather they were gift cards towards future purchases. This might be okay if you have plans to make future purchases, but I do not consider this savings as this isnt cash I can use towards anything other then product in that store.  I have had deals like this before and have sold the gift cards or traded them, but in most cases you end up losing a few dollars that way also.

Clothing – Here is where I think most of the real savings can be.  If you are looking to hit the mall or a local department store like Kohls you may be in for some substantial savings. Many local stores in my area had what appeared to be great deals coupled with coupons that they allowed.  Clothing and accessories are typically high margin items to begin with so stores have the wiggle room to give nice savings while still making the money up in volume. This does create bargains if you plan ahead and know what you are looking for an want.  If you end up just buying to buy for the sake of the deal, you may end up losing in the end since you will probably over spend your budget and have more then you will handle, or wear, for that matter.

Household – Another category that seems like the consumer can really win at. For example, I heard my local Bed Bath and Beyond was taking all their normal and expired coupons on top of any advertised deals. This created some great shopping opportunities for household items and my mother capitalized herself on getting some items she was waiting on.

How was your Black Friday shopping experience?