Black Friday: Deals, Steals, and Crowds!

On Thanksgiving Day, in the United States, we gather together with our families and eat a huge meal. We give thanks for our blessings and enjoy the day off. It is generally a relaxing day – other than the cooking and cleanup! The day after Thanksgiving is another story. Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving, may not be an official holiday, but it is very important to a lot of shoppers and retailers.

Black Friday

The term “Black Friday” has been in use since 1966, when the Philadelphia Police Department used it to describe the day after Thanksgiving, when a huge influx of traffic to stores wreaked havoc on both streets and sidewalks. Recently, the media and retailers have been using “Black Friday” to indicate a period where their losses to turn into profits, i.e. going from being in the red to being in the black.

Busiest Shopping Day?

Some say that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. It may feel like it when you’re in the middle of a crowd, fighting for the sweater you want before standing in line for 45 minutes to pay for it; however, the busiest shopping day is traditionally the Saturday just before Christmas.

Black Incidents

In the last few years, there have been deaths related to the frenzy around advertised deals. In one notable instance, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in 2008 by shoppers who smashed through the doors of the Long Island store. That same year, two men shot and killed each other in a California Toys “R” Us store in the checkout area. Many shoppers have been injured in similar incidents.

The Frenzy

Merchants know that many people have the day after Thanksgiving off from work and will use that time to get Christmas shopping done. With the increased volume of shoppers, each retailer wants to make sure that their store is very enticing. Advertising of “door busters”, deeply discounted items of limited quantities for specific early hours, is common practice. These deals are usually electronics or popular toys and are offered at extremely low prices. There are generally not very many of these items available, so shoppers may begin to line up quite early in order to secure purchase of them. Unfortunately, this can also lead to pushing, shoving, squabbles, and even injuries as consumers try to obtain these highly desired items.

Find the Deals

Thanksgiving Day newspapers are stuffed with circulars from stores advertising their Black Friday deals. It’s a good idea to scan the ads and plan your shopping trip to save time. The Black Friday Infowebsite publishes ads before they are available in newspapers. Website visitors can sign up to receive email updates as new ads are posted. Some shoppers like to scan these ads and then use the layaway system if the store allows it. They save their items on layaway with a down payment and then fulfill the purchase for the Black Friday price. Some stores prohibit this practice, so shoppers should be aware of each store’s policies before trying this.

Black Friday Online

Lots of shoppers are avoiding the Black Friday crowds in stores by shopping online. Deals can be found all over the Internet and while there are still limited quantities, shoppers can make purchases from home without the hassles of the crowded stores. Online stores will begin marketing their Black Friday events throughout November, so watch for them on your favorite shopping sites.

Social Network Shopping

Facebook is one place to find deals. The Black Friday Facebook page has leaked ads and giveaways. Twitter’s @blackfriday also contains deals and Black Friday specials. Twitter users can follow individual store accounts for deals as well. Even Foursquare has deals to offer its users. Some shops offer discounts for users who check in from this smartphone-based social tool.

Take Care

However you decide to tackle your holiday shopping, plan ahead and be safe!