Black Friday. Consumerism at its best. Or worst. It really depends on whether you’re someone who’s prepared to camp out in front of Wal-Mart overnight in the cold in the hopes of “saving money” or if you value sleep, comfort, warmth and your sanity.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia. We’re the “lucky country”. We’re thankful everyday. Instead of stuffing a turkey on Thanksgiving day, we stuff ourselves on Christmas day with a barbie – no, not the toy with the unrealistic physical proportions, I mean a barbecue. Instead of Black Friday, we have “Boxing Day Sales”.
For the past week, I have seen segments on American news and talk shows such as Today, The View (don’t judge me!) and The Ellen DeGeneres Show talk about Thanksgiving and about shopping for bargains on Black Friday. Not surprisingly, advice from some money management experts have been to stay home and shop online or to wait for another day.
Let’s face it, the retail sector is suffering and has been for a while. I remember in years past when pre-Christmas sales nights were major events that you had to score an invitation to. One year, I went to one of our major department stores in Sydney with a friend where they provided free champagne to shoppers all night (not the real expensive kind). The alcohol did the trick: at one point, my friend picked up a pair of Calvin Klein sandals and marveled at how cheap they were…until I pointed out that she had missed reading the first digit on the price tag. All night long, we looked jealously at fellow shoppers who were carrying big shopping bags and wondered what bargains they had scored and wished that was us. Then when we did finally buy something, we would congratulate ourselves that we had bought something.
For the last few years, pre-Christmas shopping evenings have become the norm and many shopping centres would allow longer shopping hours a month ahead of Christmas. Many stores would offer “tonight only” specials but even those have proven hardly attractive enough to bring shoppers in. Personally, my email inbox is inundated with specials every week from some of my regular favourite stores that I cannot remember the last time I paid the full price for anything at those stores.
I have no doubt there will still be some genuine one-off bargains to be had on Black Friday for those looking for them. If you are determined to be the first through the doors when they open on Black Friday, then I wish you all the best. It may be the best form of exercise you will get after a big Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.
I hope this clip from CHUCK doesn’t put you off…code word is PINEAPPLE! 🙂