Am I the only one who doesn’t get Black Friday? I mean, the stores aren’t doing charity work here. They are forever in the business of separating consumers from their cash, and Black Friday seems to me like just another gimmicky way to do that.
Think of all the hidden costs that are lurking on a Black Friday shopping expedition, and then ask yourself if it’s not cheaper to shop on other (less frenzied) days of the year.
The sleep lost by waking up at 4 a.m.
I mean, your body is probably still processing the thousands of calories you ate the day before. It’s not often you get a day off of work—do you really want to spend it in exhausted frustration at the mall? Wouldn’t you rather just stay home, curled up by the fire with a book, enjoying leftovers?
The time spent in vain searching for that elusive Bargain
Stores advertise their absolute best Black Friday deals. A 32″ LCD TV for $299, a Nintendo Wii for $179…But 9 times out of 10, those deals are gone before you make it inside the store’s doors. You’re left disappointed, and surrounded by mediocre deals on items that don’t really excite you. You can never get those four hours back that you spent searching for a parking spot and waiting in lines.
The money spent on stuff you don’t really need
Last I checked, retail stores are still looking out for their bottom line, not helping to protect your pocketbook. What the stores are losing in reduced prices they’re making up for in increased volume. I’m all for using coupons and buying stuff on sale, but only if I was going to buy the item anyway. It’s never a good idea to spend money on stuff that you weren’t planning on buying simply because it’s a good deal. When you’re caught up in the competitive consumerism typical of Black Friday, you’re likely to shell out bucks for items that are incredibly marked down, but that you really don’t have a use for. Did you save $50 on that KitchenAid stand mixer, or did you really just lose $100 buying the new bedding set you impulsively decided to buy but didn’t really need? (And don’t even mention the $9.99 you wasted on that Snuggie for your dog.)
The medical costs associated with bodily injury
Okay, this one is a stretch, but there is the potential for physical harm from vying with the crowds. Chances are, though, you’ll remain perfectly intact during your shopping expedition. If you are concerned about the potential injury that could come from driving on ice, standing for hours in the cold, or having an old lady beat you down over the last KitchenAid mixing stand, consider staying home and shopping online instead.
Super-sale prices can mean lack of value
More often than not, if an item is being sold at a rock-bottom price, there’s a reason for it. The store doesn’t want it anymore. Maybe it’s defective, maybe it’s already been bought and returned, maybe there’s a scratch on it, or a piece is missing. You’ll be so frenzied at the store that you won’t be able to do a full inspection before purchasing. The problem is, the return policies on items purchase on Black Friday are usually stricter, so you may have problems returning or exchanging. Way too many Black Friday shoppers experience buyer’s remorse after the thrill of the bargain hunt has worn away.
I don’t mean to be a total bah-humbug when it comes to Black Friday shopping. Maybe it’s a tradition in your family to hit the stores and enjoy brunch together afterwards. If you actually enjoy being with the crowds, waiting in line for hours, and stepping over merchandise (and occasionally bodies), go for it. For some, the thrill of finding a bargain is worth all of that. Just try to stay clear of the hidden costs mentioned above and you’ll end up with a lighter credit card bill while still getting a leg up on your Christmas shopping. As for me, I’ll be at home, under my covers, sleeping off my turkey coma.