Weekend Assignment #244: Black Friday

This is the assignment that Karen posted last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving:

Weekend Assignment #244: The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is widely believed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Do you typically shop for holiday gifts on that day? If so, why? Is this year any different in that respect?

Extra Credit: Is there a particular bargain you are pursuing this year? If so, what is it?

This year, Tall Paul went out on “Black Friday” morning, and not only returned to tell the tale (although he probably won’t), he found most of the items on his shopping list and even got some good sale prices. He wasn’t particularly driven by Black Friday bargain-hunting, though – it was mostly a question of time and convenience. He had the day off, and his kids were at their mother’s. We only have one other weekend between now and Christmas when the kids won’t be with us (and his son’s birthday is that weekend), so he wanted to seize the opportunity to shop for some of their gifts.

He went without me, though (which gave him a chance to shop for my gifts, too). For years, I have said that the only store I want to go to on the day after Thanksgiving is the grocery store – which, for the record, I will avoid like the plague on the day before Thanksgiving. Sometimes I do end up at a big-box or discount store on Black Friday – I’ll usually still need to make my normal weekly Target run – but I keep my distance from shopping malls. Ever since the year I went to Lenscrafters to pick up a pair of glasses without even thinking about what day it was – and it took me over half an hour to get out of the parking lot – I stay away from malls as much as possible for the entire weekend after Thanksgiving. I just don’t enjoy the circus aspect of the crowds and competition that some people bring to Black Friday shopping, and I’d prefer to stay out from it all. And I have to wonder whether the huge markdowns that stores offer on some things make some customers so excited about what they’re saving that, overall, they end up spending more – because the deals were “just too good to pass up!”

(On a more serious but related note, you’ve all heard about this by now – Black Friday can be truly dangerous.)

I tend to do a lot of my gift shopping online, actually – prices are often better (especially with free shipping and, sometimes, no sales tax), and you can’t beat the convenience. But Tall Paul and I will probably make a few local shopping trips between now and the middle of December, once we finish putting our lists together. We try to have a few specific ideas and a budget for everyone on it – which may be a little lower this year, truthfully – and that tends to guide our shopping more than specific bargain-hunting. However, if we find a good deal on something we were planning to buy anyway, that makes it even better – it’s like a gift for us!

Although I haven’t had the chance to do this for a few years – and I won’t this year either, because I’ll be working – I actually enjoy shopping on the day after Christmas. It’s a great time for re-stocking gift-wrapping materials and finding decorations for next year. Also, since winding up the holidays means that, in retail-calendar terms, spring is just around the corner, stores are already starting to offer major discounts on all sorts of winter clothes and other merchandise.

Do you opt out of Black Friday too, or is it one of the highlights of your holiday? Or do you have to brave the crowds and work in the midst of it all? I’ve had to work on the day after Thanksgiving, but it’s never been in retail, so I truly feel for you if you’ve had to be on that side of the register.

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  1. Ah, the day after Christmas. That’s also huge shopping day. The difference is, the Christmas stuff that gets discounted that day is largely gone by the next!

    Sounds like you and Tall Paul manage the best of both the get-in-there and stay-away schools of thought.

  2. I’ve gone shopping on Black Friday one time. My mother-in-law was visiting and she wanted to go. This year, Black Friday was spent in the ER with our nephew (he had a kidney stone, so he’s fine now), and fighting the crowds probably would have been more fun.

  3. we went black friday shopping for the first time, and I will never go again. there was a near riot at our local walmart…it was frightening.

    the group of us opted to head over to Bob Evans and enjoy their early hours instead for breakfast. I think that was the best option!

  4. Lenore – Decorations, cards, and all that stuff – good deals! I just have to remember where it all is when I get it out to use next year :-).

    KFB – That is too true, which is why it’s a bummer I have to be at work on the 26th this year (not next year, though – it will be a Saturday!) Next year, I will probably be at the office on the day after Thanksgiving, which is really not all that bad – it’s half-empty, and the commute is great!

    Black Friday worked out pretty well for us this year – hardly anyone was at the grocery store :-).

    Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I saw your tweets about that – I’m glad he’s doing better now! Maybe next year you can shop.

    Serena – That’s why you usually won’t see me out shopping on Black Friday – not at the crack of dawn, anyway.

    I haven’t had breakfast at Bob Evans for a long time – they’re not out in California. But now I’m hungry :-)!

  5. Wow! Your husband went out? He’s crazy! 🙂

    The online deals are getting better every year; pretty soon we won’t need to go out on Black Friday. At least I hope so.

  6. Mike – You would not be the first to call him crazy, trust me :-). But he actually lucked out. He went out at a normal hour (between 8 and 9), and he was lucky in a couple of stores; he was in line in just the right place and time to be called over first when they opened a new register.

    But online shopping will never have the instant-gratification factor that comes from leaving the store with what you bought. Other than that, though, it rocks.

  7. enjoyed reading your adventures (or lack of them in this case) about shopping Black Friday; I wrote about it last week on my journal as part of my Frugal Friday series; I had to work so I didn’t go out shopping BUT we are keeping Christmas so simple this year that I have only but a handful of gifts to buy which is sooo nice; less stress 🙂


  8. Sometimes I venture out on Black Friday, but not very often. I hate the crowds and people can be so nasty. I am glad it worked out well this year for Tall Paul.

    I still have a couple of more gifts to get. I thought I was done, but not quite. I thought I was done a couple of weeks ago but then I changed my mind and have rearranged some of my gift ideas. One thing I’ve learned this year. I do best when I make my list out ahead of time. I’ve always made a shopping list in the past, but this year decided to wing it. Not smart. I finally did make a list and things have gone smoothly ever since.

    I did hear on the radio that Black Friday is fast losing it’s reputation of being the busiest shopping day of the year. I wonder how true that is.

  9. Wendy (Literary Feline) – I am too. I am also glad I was able to give him my Target list and stay home! But I do need to get serious about my own shopping soon – time’s a-wastin’!

    I agree, a list is pretty darn necessary. Glad – and slightly envious – that you’re almost done!