Despite the conventional wisdom, Black Friday is not the busiest shopping day of the year. Most procrastinators know that honor belongs to the Saturday before Christmas.
Black Friday has changed over the past decade or two, and the Internet has a lot to do with that.
Remember when stores used to give away special gifts for the first 100 customers through the doors on Black Friday? I rarely see that any more. Probably because there really is no need to.
In the old days, when newspapers ruled the roost, Black Friday advertisements would be delivered with the paper on Thanksgiving Day. This gave people little time to plan their course of action for the following day and, as a result, stores generally opened up no earlier than 5 a.m. the next morning.
Black Friday advertisements are usually “leaked” in early November now, giving people more time to learn about the deals. Perhaps not coincidentally, with each passing year, many stores have been opening their doors earlier on Black Friday. It’s gotten to the point where, now, more than a few stores are opening at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday — if not sooner.
Of course, this tactic seems to have encouraged more people to get in line even earlier than they used to in order to take advantage of the loss leaders that most retail stores offer during the holiday shopping season as part of their so-called “door buster” deals.
Last year, I remember seeing people lined up outside my local Best Buy the day before Thanksgiving to take advantage of, well, I’m not really sure.
In 2010, Lori Davenport of St. Petersburg, found her 15 minutes of fame by supposedly being “the first” American to pitch a tent and stake a place in line for that year’s version of Black Friday. Let me repeat that. She lined up on a Tuesday, essentially three full days before Black Friday. I know.
What I find to be rather amazing is, despite pitching a tent and camping out for three days in front of her local Best Buy, Lori wasn’t exactly certain why she was there. Oh, she admitted to wanting an Apple notebook — although she wasn’t sure which one she planned on buying. She also had some thoughts about picking up a few other items, but they didn’t seem to be real priorities.
Now is it just me, or does that sound rather odd? I mean, if I was going to throw away my Thanksgiving and all the creature comforts of home to camp out for three nights in a pup tent, you can bet I would know exactly what I was going to be getting when those doors opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Then again, I’m just nutty that way.
How much money can folks like this lady really be saving on her great gift ideas?
If she’s lucky, I’m guessing she might have saved a few hundred bucks on the notebook; hardly worth the inconvenience, if you ask me. Especially when you consider those savings have to be discounted to account for other Christmas sales that can be found during the remainder of the holiday season. After all, it’s not as if store merchandise suddenly reverts to the full manufacturer’s suggested retail price after Black Friday is over.
Nevertheless, as Black Friday draws nearer, countless numbers of this year’s deal-seekers will be following in Lori’s footsteps; a few lucky ones will even find themselves near the front of the line.
As for me, I’m going to pass.
While I fully intend on watching a little football and eating a well-planned turkey dinner this Thanksgiving in the comfort of a warm home with the people I love, a lot of shoppers just like Lori will be away from their families, queued up in the cold — mired in dreary lines outside retailers all across America, from the mountains to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam. All in the name of saving a few extra dollars.
For their sake, I hope it’s worth it.
Photo Credit: Lilly
(This article was originally published on November 23, 2010.)