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If you’re reading this, Black Friday deals are already in full swing.
Yes, we know it’s not Friday yet.
But Black Friday isn’t just Black Friday anymore. Retailers start offering deals days or even weeks before one of the biggest shopping days of the year, luring customers with deals long before they’ve taken their first bite of Thanksgiving dinner .
“If you wake up on Black Friday and it’s the first time you’ve thought about it, you’re late,” said Kristin McGrath, editor-in-chief of online shopping site RetailMeNot.
Which means if you want to get a deeply discounted TV or gaming console, you better get moving.
But how good can a sale be that lasts this long? Are there still good deals to be had during Black Friday? season – or is it just one long marketing ploy to get us to buy more stuff?
It’s not a day anymore. And it no longer starts the day after Thanksgiving
This year, Amazon and Best Buy started their Black Friday sales a full week early, on November 17. Target started offering seasonal discounts on November 19.
Lowe’s launched its holiday sale on October 26, advertising it with the paradoxical slogan: Black Friday Every Day.
Retail experts say companies know shoppers will spend lavishly during the holiday season, and longer sales windows give companies more time to rake in the at least $957 billion shoppers are expected to disburse in person and online this year.
“They’re probably not offering longer promotions out of the goodness of their hearts,” said Kelly Goldsmith, a marketing professor at Vanderbilt University. “They are likely running longer promotions as part of a planned strategy to attract more customers and thus generate more revenue.”
Competition can also play a role, Goldsmith said. If your competitor starts their Black Friday sales early and threatens to steal some of your potential customers, you may also choose to increase your sales.
Additionally, customers themselves are starting their holiday shopping earlier. A RetailMeNot survey released in September found that 83% of shoppers said they plan to start their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving – with 64% saying they would start buying gifts starting in October or even later early.
OK, but are these sales really good?
The short answer is yes, products are actually discounted during the Black Friday sales.
According to data from Adobe Analytics, discounts this holiday season will reach record levels of up to 35% off list price, with the best deals running from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
Adobe estimated that discounts could reach 20% between November 1 and 17 and remain high – up to 16% off – in the days following Cyber Monday.
One way to know you’re getting one of these deals rather than a name-only sale is to use a price comparison tool. Websites like camelcamelcamel, for example, allow you to track an item’s price over time to determine whether the Black Friday cost is truly a good deal and avoid an inflated price.
Black Friday’s longer sales periods, while they can benefit retailers, can also help consumers by giving them more time to shop around for the best price on a specific item. Shoppers can also take the time to wait for a deeper discount, since stores can change the price of an item during their sale.
But McGrath says shoppers might want to make their purchases at the start of a Black Friday sale, especially on high-demand items that could sell out quickly.
You can still find discounts, but Black Friday isn’t as easy as it used to be
Overall, consumers can still win during Black Friday sales, as the abundance of discounts means that people who purchase a variety of products will likely save money overall.
“Throughout the year, a retailer can have a random sale and those items will hit the same low (prices),” McGrath said.
“But when it comes to big sales like Black Friday, the benefit for the consumer is that there are a bunch of products on sale at the same time, so it’s a more efficient way to put products for sale than hunting them. and pecking throughout the year.”
That doesn’t mean sorting through the thicket of holiday sales is easy, even for the most savvy shoppers. What was once an economy-wide one-day sale is now a constellation of deals, discounts and promotions that each retailer offers differently.
And while shoppers can still save money, navigating the many Black Friday sales likely won’t get any easier anytime soon.
“I wonder if at some point we’ll reach that tipping point where these sales become so long,” McGrath said, “that they’re meaningless or have so many tours that it confuses consumers.”
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