Kathy, Cynthia, Joyce, and Carmen are four friends. Cynthia and Joyce are both married with kids. Kathy is dating, while Carmen is single and ready to mingle. On a Sunday evening the following conversation took place between them.
Kathy: Ladies, what’s the holiday shopping plan? Are we going out on Black Friday?
Carmen: I guess I’m going to check out Best Buy. I need to get the catalog first; do you know when it’s coming out?
Kathy: Do they publish catalogs? I thought they stopped because employees leaked the catalogs to get advertising on deal sites.
Joyce: Really? I don’t think so. I heard that all the stores secretly do that themselves to build excitement for the sales. Come on, do you really think the all-powerful businesses can control government policies but can’t prevent a recurring leak like that?
Carmen: But how would that help them? If people know what’s on sale ahead of time, they might lose interest.
Joyce: I doubt it! You know Black Friday shopping is not about getting things you need. Well, for most of us. It’s about momentum. It’s a social thing to shop that day. Carmen, you’re not sure what you’re buying, right? You said you need to check the catalog. Why do you need to see the catalog?
Carmen: To check the deals.
Joyce: Exactly, to check the deals! Suppose you don’t get the catalog. Would you still look at Best Buy?
Carmen: I guess so…I’m a geek, I love to play with gadgets. I also like to impress my coworkers!
Cynthia: Believe me, I was like you until I had the girls. I can’t afford to be a geek anymore! Carmen, I think you’ll probably end up going somewhere else if you get a catalog from, say… Wal-Mart. Lately they’ve started offering more electronics, and of course Wal-Mart has the biggest discounts on Black Friday. Electronics stores will list almost everything in the store on their discount lists just to compete. They don’t want to miss appealing to any age group. Carmen, I’m sure you’ll be able to get what you want no matter where you shop.
Joyce: Cynthia, I couldn’t have said it better. That’s why we get the sale papers every year. Now, let’s talk about the discounts. Do you think you’re really doing your pocket a favor by buying things on Black Friday?
Kathy: Yes, I swear! Last year I scored a great deal on a pair of pants for Mark. I got them at 1/4 of the original price.
Carmen: The TV I got last year still costs more than I paid for it. I got it for $300. I was searching online, and the lowest price now is $320. Given that the price of electronics goes down over time, I scored a major win. Come on, girls, give me some credit!
Cynthia: Carmen, I’ll admit that was a good deal. But I remember you waiting in line in the cold at like 1 AM. You were among the first few people to get in, right? That’s why you got a deal like that. Just think, 4 hours of freezing your butt off to save $20. Does that really make it worth it? That’s five bucks an hour for your time, and I know your hourly rate at work is a lot more than that. Sounds like the only reward you really got is bragging rights about the lower price.
Joyce: Black Friday is less about deals and more about phenomenon. Every year, my family talks about all the cheap stuff they got. I proved to them that they can usually buy those things online at the same price. Many stores provide price matching, so all you have to do is find the cheapest sale price and present it to the store at your convenience. You don’t have to venture out to get deals. The only items that are available at steep discounts require you to be lined up by midnight. Otherwise, there’s no point in waking up early.
Cynthia: Tell me one thing then. Why do all the stores offer discounts on Black Friday if the deals aren’t worth it?
Carmen: They put out fresh holiday stock that day and want to sell as much as they can. And they offer bigger discounts on on Black Friday than any other time.
Joyce: That’s absolutely true on the first part. Stores want people to buy things as soon as possible. But your second point makes no sense. The longer stock remains on the shelves, the bigger the discounts. Black Friday is an impulse buying day. It’s more like a day to celebrate shopping.
Kathy: Mark and I will probably go out in the morning, have breakfast and shop a little bit. Not very early though.
Cynthia: Kathy, do you mind if we come along? I don’t want to miss out on the fun. I love seeing the masses pouring in to see the new items. Plus my daughters love to check out the new toys.
Joyce: Count me in. My son likes to go out as well. I don’t want him glued to the toy websites while everyone else is out shopping. Here’s the plan. We’ll only go out to have a good time with other people. This is a special day of the year and we don’t want to miss out on the fun of Black Friday. Let’s go out at 7-8ish and have breakfast. No one buys anything except a few holiday essentials, just as a token of the day.
Kathy: Then we can shop online or find price matches later that evening. And I’m planning to wait very late to buy gifts since the prices will drop closer to the holidays. I’ll probably try to find a new winter coat, though – it’s been on my list for awhile.
Carmen: Thanks, women. Actually there’s nothing on my list as of now, but I’m coming with you. I’m not going to go out at night to stand in line – this time I’ll just watch all of you shop. I might buy a toy for Joyce’s son or something for my parents.
Cynthia: This is a great plan, guys. Since most of the deals are available online, we’ll shop online. We’ll still have a memorable Black Friday together. Since it’s an American tradition, I’m sure my daughters will have a great time.
This is an imaginary conversation to let you know how Black Friday works and how ignorant people are about Black Friday deals. I encourage you to go out on Black Friday; not to shop, but to celebrate the day of shopping for the heck of it. I won’t buy a thing from the stores. I plan to just mix with the crowd and enjoy the scene.
Readers, what is your plan for Black Friday? Do you go out to celebrate or to buy?
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