Black Friday is Changing, If You Prepare, You Will Save

It used to be if you jumped into line outside of your favorite retailers early on the morning after Thanksgiving, you were sure to save lots of money. While the savings are still there, it’s not quite that easy anymore. That day, known as Black Friday, has become heavily publicized both by media outlets and the Internet. This has resulted in lines forming on Thanksgiving itself, and in some cases, several days in advance. People love a bargain, and thanks to the Internet those bargains are no longer discovered by waiting for the advertisements in the Thanksgiving newspaper. Instead, many websites post those advertisements days or weeks before Black Friday. The access to the advertisements is not the only thing that has changed this unofficial holiday for shoppers though.

Reduction In Large Discounts
Shoppers are not the only ones that realize the retail market is struggling, the retailers know that too. No longer are they willing to put large enough discounts on some items that their profits are sliced to razor thin margins. In the past, some items were even sold for less than their standard pricing, these were known as “loss leaders”. They were featured as “door buster” sales where there were limited supplies and the sale prices only lasted a for a specific time period or until they sold out. These days those items are so limited, the stores pass out pieces of paper known as vouchers to the people in the front of line to redeem for those items, instead of having mobs fight over them. Those items get people into line. The rest of the store may feature some discounted prices, but many are no better than the prices shoppers will find in the subsequent weekend sales leading up to Christmas.

Fewer Freebies
One of the great things about being among the first in line in the past was some of the free items stores would give out to their loyal customers. Many stores handed out freebies such as food or gift packs for those dedicated shoppers. The free coffee and donuts are harder to find today, but some stores such as Sam’s Club still reward their shoppers with a free lunch. The gift bags handed out frequently had coupons for discounts off a shopper’s total purchase, product samples, and discounts not only for that store but local stores wishing to lure those in line to visit them next. These bags are almost non-existant anymore.

Instead, they have been replaced by small token gifts. An example are the holiday ornaments that have been given out by JC Penny’s for the past decade. These are Disney themed Christmas ornaments. Depending on the size of your store, you can frequently find these in the customer service department for free several hours after the store opens as most stores are well stocked with them. Another twist on the freebie that stores offer are mystery gift cards. Instead of giving gift cards of $10 or more to each of the first 10 to 100 shoppers in line, they have turned it into a game. Each person in line, up to a specified number by the store, gets a gift card. The value of that gift card is not revealed until the customer checks out in the store. Frequently these are low values such as 95 out of the 100 being for $1 to $5, then the other five range in values of $10 up to possibly as much as $100.

Fewer Resellers
One of the biggest complaints about bargain hunters in the past on Black Friday was the presence of people looking to grab the biggest bargains and then resell them on the Internet. These individuals have dropped in number based on actions by both the stores and the market for the resellers. Many stores now limit the number of “door buster” items someone can buy, even if he is the first in line. With this restriction, combined with the fact that online reseller markets such as Ebay and other auction websites continue to increase fees, the profit for resellers has dropped. Consider the cost of shipping the items, and the risk of deadbeat buyers who fail to pay in a timely manner, and these factors have reduced the appeal of purchasing and reselling the largest discounted items on Black Friday.

Change Will Continue
As retailers analyze shopping habits of their customers, Black Friday will continue to change. The stores need to get as many customers in as possible, and hope they will purchase items in addition to the discounted ones. If customers only purchase the items with the largest discounts, you will find that retailers will reduce the amount of large bargains and instead start to offer sale prices that are just slightly better than what you find on your average weekend sale. In the end though, this may not be bad news for the average family. It will allow them to save a little on each item, while watching the savings add up. Families may no longer save hundreds of dollars on Black Friday, but this will give everyone a chance to get a bargain and join in the fun of this unofficial shopper’s holiday.

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