People will go to great lengths to save a little cash. There’s no better example of this than Black Friday. This year, for the first time ever, I braved the retail insanity in an attempt to get some good deals.
The fact that many retailers were opening their doors at midnight instead of 4 AM definitely drew out all the people, like myself, that can’t be bothered to get up in the middle of the night to go stand in line.
Lesson #1: Unless you’re buying a flat screen TV, don’t bother to wait in line. As soon as I arrived at the mall with my three friends in tow, the doors opened to cheers from the crowd jam packed against the entrance. We strolled right in after them without all the fuss and without the added wait.
Lesson #2: Know your deals! We decided to go to a mall so we could check out a variety of different stores, but not all stores actually have deals. I learned this lesson at Forever 21. They had exactly two things on sale: jeans for $8, that are normally $10, and a cardigan for $7 that is normally $13. Both are items that had I seen at the store any other day, I would have not even looked twice at. Yet, we spent at least an hour and a half browsing the store and realizing that we weren’t going to save any money on anything particularly interesting. I ended up buying the jeans anyway. Which brings me to…
Lesson #4: Don’t buy things you don’t need! Saving money on items you never even wanted is counterproductive to say the least. After picking out a pair of jeans without even trying them on, I stood in line for 45 minutes, until some tired soul rang up my purchase- a tired soul who ended up forgetting to remove the security tag. So I might have saved myself $2 but not another trip to the mall.
Lesson #5: A penny saved is an hour wasted. After browsing several other stores, we stopped at Converse, which actually had a sale. Again, I don’t particularly need Converse shoes, but the overpriced kicks were on sale from $19.99 to $39.99, depending on the style and all purchases were 40% off. So I picked out a blue pair and then got in line to pay. An hour and a half later after slowly snaking around the entire store, I decided that I would rather pay the extra $10 than to waste away in a never ending waiting line.
Lesson #6: Only some items are worth the trouble. After all was said and done, I probably saved myself no more than $10 because I was only looking for clothes. The people who really benefit from Black Friday are those looking to buy big ticket items that are in limited quantity and will save you hundreds. For everyone else, every day sales will do just fine.
Lesson #7: Black Friday is not the time to browse. To make Black Friday shopping a worthwhile experience, you need to get what you want and get out. Of the friends I went with, one had an idea of how much she wanted to spend and what she wanted to buy. She was there for an hour. The rest of us spent all our time looking around to see if we found anything good and waiting in line, for a total of four hours. We probably missed out on legitimately good deals because we didn’t know what we were looking to buy.
So is Black Friday worth it? The answer is: it depends. If you follow these guidelines, then perhaps. If you’re me, definitely not.