The holiday season is looming. Even if you haven’t started thinking of holiday shopping just yet, retailers have a plan to stoke the fires of the seasonal shopping frenzy: Black Friday.
Traditionally, Black Friday marks the unofficial beginning of Christmas shopping, the first Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States. Over the past number of years retailers have expanded Black Friday from normal store hours back to 6 a.m., 4 a.m. and recently even midnight.
In fact, some retailers have added special sale items over the entire week preceding Black Friday to build the buying momentum.
Thanksgiving weekend is inherently busy, as people gather together for family time and to watch the full roster of sporting events. Combining this with the overall acceptance of online shopping has given rise to an addition to Black Friday. The term, Cyber Monday, has been coined to cover the spending patterns observed over the past few decades and retailers’ responses in the form of blockbuster online sales.
While Black Friday is certainly a reminder to get started on your holiday shopping, don’t get too caught up in the hype. Research has shown that not all Black Friday deals are actual bargains. In fact, many items can be purchased more cheaply throughout the year. Some of the best bargains are, of course, immediately prior to and after Christmas itself as retailers look to clear their shelves of all the excess inventory. Do your own research before dashing out looking to purchase anything.
On a darker note, Black Friday has shown a violent side at times. This violence peaked in 2008 when a store employee was trampled to death as the doors opened. Unfortunately there are many stories of lesser injuries resulting from the same retail frenzy.
We are fortunate to avoid incidents of this scale in Newfoundland and Labrador, but the holiday shopping crowds are still no treat. That combined with the fact that Cyber Monday sales tend to lean towards technology items means I’ll be doing most of my holiday shopping online.
A quick web search will give you a great overview of the upcoming holiday sales. There are a number of sites dedicated to aggregating the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale items. Several of these websites have been attacked by larger retailers, such as Wal-mart, Target and Staples, who claim that prior knowledge of some of these sales constitutes a breach of trade secrets. From what I see, such lawsuits have had little effect on the availability of online information.
So, what are some of the hot items this year? On the gadget side, Apple has their new line of mini-tablets available and Samsung has just released the Galaxy Note 2.
Of the plethora of tablet computers on the market, some are certain to be included in the holiday sales. Also be sure to check out those retailers that specialize in online shopping like Amazon. They tend to push out sales well before Friday, adding items as the days count down.
Is there something you’ve had an eye on for that special someone, or yourself? It could be that one of these specials will be right up your alley. Just try to avoid getting caught up in the excitement.
And if you do venture out, stay safe.
Jon Reid is an IT professional working in Corner Brook. His column appears every other Tuesday in The Western Star.