Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, let’s be honest: we all fall victim to the corporate Black Friday. The one day of the year where stores around the country have massive sales in preparation for the holiday gift-giving. The day with overcrowded stores of people rushing to find the best deals on holiday shopping can be as stressful and chaotic as you imagine.
What once began as a one-day event turned into an entire month of promotional sales in preparation for the holidays. Every year, the sales seem to begin earlier and earlier. This year, some stores began their sales as early as November 1st. Such tactics by retailers are used to persuade consumers into purchasing more.
Retailers use all kinds of sales promotions to attract consumers. Companies know that a 50%-off sales tag will entice many consumers, as everyone loves to pay less and save money. Although a sale price is better than an original price, many retailers have found tricks to gain more money.
NBC News reported on a study conducted by Consumers’ Checkbook that many high-end retailers will raise their original prices in times of sales, so it seems that the Clarence products are cheaper than the original price. While in reality, the prices the customer is paying before and during the sale are the same.
The History of Black Friday: Where it all Began
There are a few myths about how Black Friday came to be. According to Business Insider, the term was first used on Sept. 24th, 1869, when investors Jay Gould and Jim Fisk drove up the price of gold and caused a crash in the stock market, causing it to drop by 20%. This was detrimental to everyone, especially farmers.
The term Black Friday was later introduced again during the 1950s in Philadelphia, as crowds of shoppers and tourists went to the city for the Army-Navy game, taking part after Thanksgiving. During the 1980s the term became most popular as department stores saw a rise in sales after Thanksgiving, marking it the beginning of holiday shopping. Retail stores would switch from using red color pens to write the loss in sales to black ink, indicating the rise in sales, hence the term black Friday.
One strategy to overcome the stress of holiday gift-giving is to purchase all your gifts prior to the rush in preparation for the shopping season. The holidays are also a time when packages are often delayed due to the massive number of delivery drivers have to handle.
Historically, Thanksgiving has been the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. Although it is not an official holiday, many people enjoy the day off after Thanksgiving, except those working in retail of course. Working in retail during the holidays can seem like a nightmare. As illustrated in movies, people lining outside of stores for hours, rushing inside as the doors open, and fighting for the last big-screen TV left, Black Friday can be a chaotic event.
For those who prefer to shop online, you may prefer CyberMonday, the day where online retailers promote sales on their websites. Unlike Black Friday, it wasn’t until 2005 when CyberMonday became popular.
But let’s be honest, is there really a difference between Black Friday and CyberMonday? For many stores, the answer is no. There are little to no changes in sales promotions.
How to Survive the Holiday Shopping Season
The earlier the better. While some have started shopping in early November or October, there is still time to get your packages on time. According to the US Postal Service, if you want your packages to arrive in time for Christmas to your loved ones, you should mail retail ground packages before December 15th. Although, to prevent any delays caused by excessive packages or weather conditions, the earlier the better!
Find sales or coupons. During this time of the year, many stores have promotions, whether on Black Friday or any other day of the month. Looking out for promotions could save you hundreds of dollars when shopping for your friends and family.
Shopping in-person versus online. Within the past few years, retailers have seen more and more online shoppers. The spark of the COVID-19 pandemic has skyrocketed online sales, as people were stuck in their homes with little to do but shop from their devices.
Although online shopping can be a safer and less hassle option as you do not have to go into overcrowded stores, the added shipping prices and delivery time can be a constraint, when in a rush to purchase presents. Shopping in person can save you money and time by not having to worry about added shipping prices and package delays.
Make a holiday list and check it twice. Shopping while on a budget can be stressful, therefore creating a list before heading out to the stores, or purchasing anything online can help you financially budget your money better.
Having a list of all the gifts you need will help you commit to your budget. When budgeting, remember to leave some room to shop for yourself. We all need a little something!
Shopping Ethically and Sustainably
Holiday shopping is the perfect time to consider the brands you are purchasing from. Whether your brand is practicing sustainability or other ethical practices, ensure your favorite company is positively impacting the planet.
Prior to your holiday shopping, it is important to do your research. Research what brands are ethical, sustainable, and socially friendly. Shop for sustainable clothing or from brands that use eco-friendly packaging.
Ethical shopping could be as easy as opting out for a paper receipt and getting it emailed or shopping from BIPOC retailers. Purchasing from minority-owned and local businesses will help create cash flow and uplift the local economy.
When mailing out packages to loved ones, use eco-friendly packaging. Reuse that old cardboard box that’s been sitting in your garage, or use old newspapers as package stuffing instead of plastic wrap. Being sustainable does not mean spending money. Find little ways to be more sustainable with the products you have at home.
This holiday season, buy your loved ones a gift they will enjoy while positively impacting the world. Purchase from small local businesses, black or minority-owned businesses, sustainable and ethical practice businesses.