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Black Friday

In pursuit of the deal

Arm yourselves. Black Friday is coming, the most crazed shopping day of the year, when normally rational people risk life and limb for a bargain. 

It launches the holiday shopping weekend when retailers surpass their annual sales, and profits are in the black. How did the day after Thanksgiving come to be known as “black?”

Well, contrary to myth, it was not originally the day when slave traders gave discounts at auctions.

Historically, the first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied to the infamous crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869, a scandal that sullied the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. 

But its reference to the holiday shopping mayhem as we know it today originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s. Police used it to describe the chaos caused by hordes of shoppers and tourists in town the same weekend as the Army-Navy football game and Santa’s arrival in stores. The term was picked up in the national media to describe what has become a shopping phenomenon and its own holiday.

In recent years, unruly crowds in pursuit of blockbuster bargains have caused brawls, death and injuries to workers and customers. In response to the death of an employee at a Walmart who was trampled by stampeding shoppers, a shootout at Toys R Us and mayhem at a Target, the Department of Labor actually issued safety and crowd control guidelines to major retailers. 

Regardless, merchants are thrilled with their bottom lines. According to the National Retailers Federation, last year’s Black Friday Internet sales ran neck-and-neck with in-store sales. And Cyber Monday rapidly surpassed both when online spending topped $3 billion for the first time. Over all, deep discounts wooed more than 154 million shoppers from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday.

What used to be a fun antidote to an all-day food coma has evolved into a four-day sporting event for diehard shoppers, who brave predawn hours and freezing temperatures to stake their place in line for a doorbuster deal. 

Why do we buy into the Black Friday hype? There’s a psychology behind the madness, according to studies on consumer behavior. Retailers depend on holiday shoppers to up their profits, and pull out all the stops to reel them in.

For shoppers, perceived scarcity (“limited quantity”) creates a sense of urgency that brings out hunter-gatherer behaviors. It’s the thrill of the hunt and the reward is success. Researchers say that for shoppers, it’s a fun social event, a tradition, and a why-not experience. And—if you can believe this—it’s also about spending quality time with family and friends and bonding. Seriously.

But is Black Friday shopping really worth it? Many retail analysts don’t think so. According to Business Insider, that’s because more and more discount retailers are offering deals weeks before the big day, and in the weeks closer to Christmas. Also, the same deals can usually be found online before, during and after Black Friday. 

Not all retailers in Colorado Springs will open on Thanksgiving. Most, such as the Shops at Briargate, want Black Friday to be a happy shopping experience for their customers without the frenzy.

“The Promenade Shops at Briargate is not the traditional camp-out- the-night-before shopping venue,” says Janyce Chmelka, Marketing Coordinator. Rather, the outdoor center has steady traffic from 7:00 a.m. to closing.  “Our retailers and restaurants have loyal customers they cater to with special offers and events.”

To kick off the season, this year’s all-new family entertainment, Parad-Ice on the Promenade, will feature famous Colorado ice sculptor, Jess Parrish, who will carve five sculptures over the weekend, as well as Victorian carolers for a festive holiday atmosphere. 

The Chapel Hills Mall will be closed overall on Thanksgiving Day, although stores with exterior entrances and the movie theatre can operate as they choose, says Diane Loschen, the mall’s marketing director.

The mall will open at 6:00 a.m. on Black Friday with prize envelopes containing gift cards from $10 to $100 given to the first 250 people in line. And “Random acts of kindness could find shoppers the lucky recipients of more gift cards,” says Loschen. 

It’s safe to say that crazed behavior is not the norm and not everyone lines up at an ungodly hour for a 60-inch plasma TV. 

Still, amazing deals are possible for adrenalin-fueled buyers who do their research first by making their lists and checking them twice. It takes advance work, but it’s critical to know before you go. 

• Plan your strategy. Make a list and stick to it. Know exactly what stores you’re going to and for what items.                     

• Know everything about the items you want and where they’re located in the store. Beware of cheap, no-name substitutes.

• Check out your coveted merchandise ahead of time.

• Look at the ads and the aps beforehand.

• Read the fine print! Watch out for deceptive doorbusters and inflated discounts.

 You’re on a mission. Don’t get sidelined by cheap items that aren’t on your list.

• Compare online and in-store prices.

• Know the store policies in advance, and ask about price matching before you buy.

• Parking lots will be full so have a backup plan. 

• Go with a friend.

Yes, there is a bright side to Black Friday. It’s only one day. Or a 96-hour weekend. And there’s still a month left until Christmas. 

 

Shopping Insights

• 2017 BF Deals/coupons

www.blackfriday.com

www.theblackfriday.com 

• 10 TIPS

www.thebalance.com/getting-black-friday-deals-951870

• BUSINESS INSIDER

www.businessinsider.com/black-friday-isnt-worth-it-2016-11

• FORTUNE

www.fortune.com/2016/11/27/black-friday-nrf-shopping/