Thanksgiving Day is a time to spend with family and friends, eating turkey and dressing followed by pumpkin and pecan pie, and watching football. For many, it is also a day to strategize about the best way to tackle the list of holiday gifts that need to be bought. The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, has become the busiest shopping day of the year, with as many as 1/3 of all Americans shopping on this one day. Many retailers advertise special one-day prices on Black Friday, which has fueled the popularity of shopping on this day.
Be a Smart Shopper
If a deal seems too good to be true, it can make you think twice before buying. That logic seems to go out the window when it comes to buying on Black Friday, so here are some tips to help determine if the deal is as good as it seems.
- If you see a price on an item that is much lower than usual, do your research before buying it. Manufacturers build low-quality products specifically for Black Friday, the most common of which are electronics such as televisions, computers, and tablets. They might be made by reputable companies, but in many cases, they are made with less expensive components than the regular product. These cheaper versions can actually cost you more money, since they probably won’t last as long as their pricier counterparts. Comparing the model number of the advertised special, which is listed next to the product in the sales flyer or under the item’s description online, to the model number of the standard product will alert you to whether or not this is a derivative product.
- Don’t rely on the MSRP. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price can be misleading, especially when sales advertise a certain percentage off of it. For example, if a cookware set has an MSRP of $200, generally sells for $120, and is advertised at 50% off on Black Friday, it is only a $20 discount off the regular selling price. While a $100 discount may seem worth standing in line for hours for hours, far fewer would be willing to do so for only $20 off.
- Be mindful of mail-in rebates. Only 40% of all mail-in rebates for electronics are ever redeemed, and many have limits on how many can be claimed by a single household. If you don’t receive the discount immediately, there is a good chance you might forget to mail the rebate in, lose the receipt, or accidentally throw away packaging that contains barcodes that must be sent to the manufacturer.
- Black Friday might not be the cheapest day to shop. Depending on what items are on your list, you might be better off waiting to make a purchase. Toys tend to be cheapest in December, while winter clothing is usually heavily discounted after the holidays.
Alternatives to Black Friday
The success of Black Friday has spawned several other shopping movements, such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday occurs the day after Black Friday, and the emphasis is placed on spending money at smaller retailers, such as local boutiques or artisans. Cyber Monday is a day filled with online-only sales on products from retailers of all sizes.
If the idea of spending a day off standing in long lines at stores or staring at a computer screen doesn’t interest you, consider another option. Outdoor retailer REI decided to close on Black Friday last year to enable their employees to be able to spend the day outdoors with friends and family. This alternative to shopping, known as #OptOutside has grown this year, as many nonprofits, government agencies, and companies have embraced the idea. Many local and state parks are offering free entry, as well as greatly expanding their interpretive programming for the day in order to attract more visitors.
All Eastex Credit Union branches will be closed on Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th. You may continue to access your accounts via online and mobile banking during this time, and our ATMs are available 24/7.