Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2009 – If You Must Go Shopping, Plan Ahead

by Kevin on November 24, 2009

The American public , despite a recession, are foaming at the mouth at potential discounts this holiday season. What will they find in stores this shopping season? Here’s a brief review of what to expect.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an unofficial American consumerist holiday. It falls on the day after Thanksgiving every year and officially marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season. Retailers open very early (5 a.m. or earlier) and offer door-busting discounts. (So door-busting that a man was trampled to death last year in a Wal-Mart. Sad.)

American’s are so infatuated with Christmas shopping that retailers now derive a majority of their revenue and profit during the weeks in between Black Friday and Christmas.

That’s a lot of shopping.

But I will admit the discounts are enticing. If you are financially stable and able then Black Friday can be a great opportunity to snag some significant discounts.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is a follow up to Black Friday. Naturally, it is the first Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Black Friday is typically associated with brick-and-mortar stores — physical stores you can walk in to. They offer those crazy 5 a.m. door busting deals to get you in the door.

Cyber Monday is traditionally organized around online retailers. The online retailers let some of the Black Friday craze wear off.

Or maybe they’re anticipating consumers’ inability to get every single deal they wanted this holiday season. “Hey, didn’t get everything you wanted to buy this Black Friday? Lucky for you — we’re online (so you can shop from work) and we’ll ship those items you missed right to your door!”

Either way there are definitely some good deals to be had out there — if you know where to look.

How to Track Black Friday Deals and News

All those amazing deals won’t do you any good if you don’t know what they are or what retailers are offering them. Here are a few sites i enjoy using to track these deals:

  • bfads.net – A site completely dedicated to Black Friday ads
  • dealnews.com – One of many deal tracking websites that will also show you the latest Black Friday deals
  • Dealnews’ Black Friday app – Got an iPhone? Track those crazy deals with this handy application.
  • CyberMonday.com – a listing of all the Cyber Monday deals
  • FatWallet.com – A great rebate site where you get money back on your purchases from certain retailers. Has a fantastic forum for Black Friday deals where crazy people make spreadsheets of all the amazing deals.

What Discounts to Watch for Black Friday 2009

I’m no shopping expert. But from what I’ve seen most major discounts that you will see this year for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is on electronics.

Televisions, gaming systems (Playstation 3, X-Box 360, and Wii), cameras, and the like are all ripe for discounts. This makes sense because these are generally larger ticket items.

You can afford to slash $200 off the price of the TV if you can sell more TVs (and more extraordinarily and unnecessarily expensive/profitable cables to go with the TVs).The price of the TV is higher to start with so you have discounting room.

However, all is not well in retail discount land…

What to Avoid on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Plainly put a lot of the “deals” being advertised for Black Friday aren’t really good deals. CNN Money has a great article that points out some of the dirty secrets of Black Friday ‘doorbuster’ deals.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • Severely limited quantities. Retailers advertise a crazy good deal on a television. Let’s say it is $500 off the regular price — truly crazy. But down at the bottom of the ad in the tiny print it says there will only be four of that item guaranteed to be in store. They advertise to millions of people and sell only a handful  at that amazing price. (But they got you in the store — success.)
  • Lesser items than advertised. You think you’re buying TV ABC, but in reality you’re buying TV ABC minus a few of its features. It cost the retailer less to stock it, but you aren’t getting what you think you’re getting.

There are other problems to look out for, too.

  • You will be able to find better deals later on in the season. It’s tough to turn down some of those deals. But later on in the season as retailers get more and more anxious prices will drop on some categories of items. Dealnews has reported that last year televisions were actually cheaper in December and January than on Black Friday. Waiting paid off in that category.
  • You don’t need all this stuff. Maybe you are one of those folks that can’t just avoid a good deal. You don’t really need to buy these discounted items, but the big SALE sign catches your eye. Before you know it your cart and car are full — and so is your credit card bill.
  • You don’t shop with a list. You intend to only buy a few items on sale… items you had already intended to buy. But when you get to the mall you don’t take a list and fall prey to the big SALE sign.

Plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Success

The easiest way to resolve these problems is to plan ahead.

Read the ads and go over them with a fine tooth comb. Make a list and decide what you’re going to purchase. Then only buy those items. Have a plan for what you would do if one of the items on your list isn’t available.

In short: make a plan and execute the plan.

Then go back to bed.

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