How To Make The Most Of Black Friday
By: FCU Team
It may not be an official holiday, but you can bet that millions of Americans have Black Friday circled on their calendars each year. The day after Thanksgiving is more like Christmas in November, bringing gifts (and deals) on almost anything you can think of.
But the Black Friday of old, the one where you wake up early after a day of glorious eating and afternoon naps to visit the mall on your day off, has quickly become a thing of the past.
Online shopping, year-round door-busters, and stores now opening their doors on Thanksgiving has made for a new, and overwhelming, Black Friday experience. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2005, shoppers in the U.S. spent over $26 billion. By 2018, that figure jumped to nearly $60 billion.
The deals might be too good to pass up, but there are better ways to get them. In our technological age, you’d have to be crazy to stand in line all day for one item that could be gone by the time you reach the front. As the experts say, “If you want a real deal on Black Friday, stay away from the mall.”
Here’s how you can maximize your Black Friday savings while still maintaining your sanity.
Black Friday Lasts Longer Than One Day
Black Friday is more like a holiday weekend, rather than a one-day event.
After Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday as part of what some retailers dub Cyber Week with door-buster sales that last for days. Even walk-in retailers like department stores and car dealerships will extend their Black Friday sales through the weekend in order to compete with the online marketplace.
This means that you can avoid the, sometimes literal, rush of shoppers at the mall or outlet stores when trying to do your holiday shopping. Going to the stores during the weekend won’t beat the crowd entirely, but you will miss the extra boost of people partaking in the Black Friday Festivities.
Some people enjoy the physical shopping experience, but others would rather skip the store altogether. Nowadays, you can do all your shopping from the comfort of your home. Virtually every retail store has a website where you can shop, in addition to giant online sellers like Amazon. You can buy your gifts with your credit card on your computer or phone and have the items delivered straight to your door. Wal-Mart, Sears, and most other retailers have the option to buy online and pick up from the store all year round. Using this feature on Black Friday allows you to get the best of both experiences.
The much less talked about, yet no less important, “Small Business Saturday” is a shopping holiday designed to keep the money you spend in your own community. Also known as #SmallBizSaturday on social media, the campaign started as an effort by American Express in 2009. Now in its tenth year, Small Business Saturday has grown to be a shopping day that rivals Black Friday itself, with worldwide campaigns since popping up in the UK and elsewhere.
Big box retailers and massive corporations dominate the American shopping scene, but there are hundreds of small stores owned by people who live in your neighborhood, city, and state that could use the business. Small businesses are likely to have less traffic even during their busiest times. Not to mention, every small business has the chance to be a “hidden gem”. Whether it’s a clothing boutique, a craft shop, bakery or restaurant, local stores might surprise shoppers with high quality products most people just don’t know about.
What are your interests? Chances are, there is a store in your community catering to that very thing. Many towns and cities have their own business directory listing available local enterprises right next door. For Gainesville and Alachua County residents, check out the Visit Alachua Business Directory to see a complete list. And if you live outside of Gainesville, or even if you don’t, apps like Yelp are useful to find other small businesses you might be missing out on.
Do More Shopping During The Year
Black Friday’s deals are unbeatable but not “un-tie-able”. In other words, there are times throughout the year where the savings you can get on certain products are just as good as Black Friday door-buster sales. Depending on the product you’re interested in buying, it may be more financially sound to make a purchase during one of the year’s other sales, especially if your holiday budget is already tight.
Car shopping, for example, is popular during the months of November and December. There are plenty of commercials featuring happy people waking up on Christmas morning to find a new car in the driveway. But car dealerships don't just offer sales during the end of year holiday season, but around President’s Day (February), Memorial Day (May), the 4th of July, and Labor Day (September) as well.
Clothes tend to go on-sale during the off-seasons as well. Winter wear like coats and hats can be bought at huge markdowns during the summer time. The same is true for summer and warm weather clothes at the end of the year.
Shopping at second-hand and outlet stores is another great way to save big on items for the holidays. The markdowns on these products are comparable to paying Black Friday prices virtually all year round.
It’s possible you may enjoy the excitement and energy of Black Friday shopping, and if so, enjoy it! It only comes around once a year. But if you think the experience is too daunting and stressful, there are ways to avoid it while still reaping the rewards.