Is Black Friday shopping worth it this year? Your Thanksgiving night might be better spent with loved ones thanks to Cyber Monday, pre-holiday sales and post-holiday extended sales.
Between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, U.S. consumers will spend well over $20 billion, predicted by Adobe Analytics in their holiday sales forecast. That makes up a huge chunk, nearly 20 percent, of the more than $120 billion in sales for the entire holiday season that runs from November 1st through December 31st.
Online sales are predicted to increase by almost 15 percent from last year while offline retail spending will have a modest 3 percent increase. “This consistent growth is itself a surprise,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst at Adode Digital Insights (ADI). “To have a $100 billion industry continue to grow in double digits is unusual and impressive.”
I’ve come to wonder, do we really get the best deals during the holiday season, or is it the tradition of holiday shopping that keeps us spending more each year?
Retail campaigns like Amazon’s “Countdown to Black Friday,” which started November 1st, build excitement and give consumers plenty of time to build a shopping plan to bank the best deals. I worry that the lure of deep discounts might motivate buyers to spend more than they otherwise would (or should) or worse, spend money they don’t have or didn’t plan on spending in the first place.
For example, 4K TVs will be one of the most sought-after Black Friday deals, but TVs are usually at their lowest prices near Christmas. Or, if you’re willing to wait until the new year, you’ll find rock-bottom deals on current models in late-February and early-March when new models arrive.
“If you have a specific model in mind, especially a popular one, purchase it by Thanksgiving to ensure it is available,” says Nate Smith, Adobe Analytics’ group manager of product marketing in a quote for USA Today. “If any model will do, you will get the best deals on Black Friday.” Unless you wait until after the New Year, when you’ll potentially find bigger savings for the after Christmas holiday clean-up. (And, can’t you live with your old TV for a few months longer? Probably.)
Clothes are another great example. There will be great deals for the holiday season, but are those deals any better than annual store sales, January sales, or back-to-school sales? Or, if savings is your main goal, shopping at the end of the season is the best way to maximize deals with clearance items.
It all comes down to whether you’re shopping because you’ve got a great plan to get the best deals, or because you want to take part in the excitement of seasonal shopping. If it’s more about the experience, maybe it’s a better choice to spend time with your family, make some holiday fun that everyone will enjoy, and save your money for smarter spending down the line.