The Parents Yap about Holiday Shopping: Does Black Friday Make You Blue?
Holiday stress, it seems, equals holiday cheer! How do you handle the pressure to shop?
With Black Friday that started a week prior, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, did you have a shopping hangover on Tuesday? Do you participate in the shopping craze that has become synonymous with the holidays?
Tasha Schlake Festel
I love Black Friday.
That's right. I look forward to it every year. It's been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. I stuff myself on Thanksgiving, and then work it all off with my mom and sister at the mall the next day. It's simply not Thanksgiving until we've filled our bellies and emptied our wallets.
I have always loved to shop. Granted, I love it more when I actually have money to spend, but still. Shopping is fun. And even more so on that crazy Black Friday. I love the crowds, the selection, the hype! I love the rush of finding that cute vegan leather (OK, pleather) jacket with a great cut that makes it kinda biker-ish but with a few subtle and well-placed ruffles to soften it up, all on sale for just $29.99, today only!
What I don't love, however, is Black Friday that started the week before Thanksgiving. I don't love the door-buster deals that start at midnight. I don't love the best deals happening on Thanksgiving. So I don't participate then. I do it on my terms.
I am a Black Friday traditionalist. I like to go to the mall when it normally opens - or maybe even a little early, something crazy like 9AM. I like to drive up and down the aisles of the parking lot, searching for a spot. I like run to the mall, shivering, because I left my coat in the car so I won't be encumbered by its bulk as I weave through the crowds to get a great deal on that 3-pot-party-crock pot, regularly $59.99, just $19.99 after 50% off and the mail-in rebate. I like to be bombarded with Christmas cheer when I enter the department stores. I like to make several trips to the car to deposit my purchases, teasing hopeful would-be shoppers who are looking for parking spots because, no, I'm not leaving yet, sucker.
I love it all, and intend to shop on Black Friday for as long as there is a day after Thanksgiving on which to kick off the Christmas season. I intend to indoctrinate my daughter one day, when she is old enough to hang tough, not whine, and not bring down us hard-core, old-school, all-day shoppers who break only for a quick lunch, a Starbucks holiday latte, and a "Like It" from Cold Stone Creamery. (Maybe I don't actually work off that many calories, come to think of it...)
I don't go with the intention of scoring awesome deals. I go to experience the fun of it. It's kind of a rush, and I get sick of people bad-mouthing or making fun of those of us that make retailers dreams come true on that day. If you don't like the insanity of midnight deals, don't take advantage of them. If you don't like Christmas stuff being on display weeks before Halloween, don't buy it. I never hit the midnight deals and I refuse to buy Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. This includes the egg nog that's been available since September, much to my nog-loving children's dismay.
The long and the short of it is this: if you don't like Black Friday, don't go shopping. I'm all for free speech and the right to assemble, but does anyone else see the irony in the people protesting on Thanksgiving in the parking lots of stores that are open on Thanksgiving because the employees of those stores aren't able to be at home with their families on the holiday? Hm.
If no one patronized the store, they wouldn't be open. It's a free market. Don't shop if you don't want to. Just don't try to stop me from doing it whenever I want, wherever I want, in any store that's open to take my money.
I am not a Black Friday girl. I don’t like to shop. I don’t really like crowds. I don’t like to feel rushed. I like to sleep late. I don’t like standing around in the cold. Bah. I’m all for shoppers boosting the economy and getting a great deal and all that all-American consumerism stuff, I just wish it could start about a week later rather than creeping up on my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day for everyone to be home with family and be thankful and eat too much. Thanksgiving is supposed to be for everyone, even people who work in retail. The shoppers will still come if you have your Early Bird/Doorbuster/One Day Only event a few days later. Really. They will.
Holidays are supposed to be full of fun and good cheer. Scrambling to get a jump on my shopping at four in the morning would find me most un-cheery and no fun to be around at all. I don’t like to feel like I am being rushed, or that something has to happen NOW or I will MISS MY CHANCE. Christmas is still almost a full month away, but it seems that everything is starting too soon. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m running out of time to get ready for events that are still far off in the future.
This “get it before it’s too late” feeling starts long before Christmastime. When I went shopping (on the last day of school) for summer toys and beach stuff, I had only the last scrappy shovels and pails to pick through as the shelves were being cleared to make way for Back to School notebooks and pencils. Christmas cards and ornaments were on display before I bought my Halloween candy. I keep getting anxious that I need to buy wrapping paper or more lights for my tree NOW before they are gone and the stores are filled with valentines and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. The stores have been playing Christmas music for weeks already and it isn’t even December. Humbug.
This is not to say that I don’t like Christmas, or gift-giving, or all the wassailing and joy and cheer and whatnot. I like all of those things. I just don’t want to have to do them yet, and I definitely don’t want to feel like I HAVE TO DO THEM NOW HURRY HURRY TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!!!!!! No. I don’t want to. I have plenty of time.
So, yes, I did a little Cyber Monday (and Sunday) shopping at home in my jammies. I still have turkey leftovers and pumpkin pie in my fridge. I have not decked my halls. I won’t have a tree for a few more weeks. Our Elf has not yet appeared on his Shelf. I will shop some more (hopefully mostly online) and I will try to shop at some smaller, local stores, and I will probably cave and buy lights and wrapping paper weeks before I need them. I will bake Christmas cookies and probably drink too much nog. I am just not ready to do any of these things yet. One holiday at a time, thank you.
For a proud cheapskate like me, one would think that Black Friday would be one of my high holy days, but this is not the case. The reasons why I don’t partake in the Black Friday festivities are myriad. None of them involve self-righteous indignation at consumerism, or making people work at their jobs at weird hours. There are few things that trump my love for a bargain, but one of them is my love of sleep and another is my laziness. A third reason is that I love sleep so much that I let it enable my laziness.
Black Friday shopping also requires planning, preparation and organization. While I respect these admirable disciplines, they most certainly are not my strong suit. I am capable of great ideas, but bringing these ideas to life is where the wheels come off for me. I have two- maybe three- years of partially completed Christmas card lists that haunt me. I don’t believe I’ve made it past the “S’s” in my address book in twice that many years, except for my family members, and that’s only because I can plunk the Christmas photo in their hands in person. To navigate the crowds on Black Friday, one would have to have prepared a list and have a plan of attack to snag those deals before they are gone.
Next, we aren’t trendy people in my family. Sure, I have an iPhone4, but I got it shortly before the 4S came out and it was a refurbished one that came as part of a cellular plan. We also drive one of the most ubiquitous family vehicles on the planet: a silver Honda Odyssey, but that baby was bought used. Do you know how much the value drops as soon as a new car is driven off the lot?? How about blockbuster films? Do I line up for the premier? Heck, no! I rarely pay to see a movie in the theaters these days. I’m more of a wait-for-the-DVD kind of gal.
What does this have to do with my abstaining from Black Friday shopping? Lots, that’s what. Stores generally offer the best sale prices on the hot, trendy items of the season, or other big ticket items. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d insert some kind of comparison table to show how my desire for great deals on trendy, big ticket items is inversely proportional to my desire for sleep and the avoidance of big crowds. I have no problem waiting until the second version of Hot Item A comes out so that I can swoop in like a vulture to get a honey deal on the first version that nobody cool even wants anymore.
A final reason why I feel secure in my decision to avoid Black Friday sales is that I’m usually pleased with online sales or regular sales in stores. My goal is to find cool gifts for the people I love at less-than-full-price. Anything better than that is icing on the cake and leaves more time for sleep!