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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