Black Friday, our newest unofficial holiday, will dawn cold and cheap to thundering herds of price-crazed shoppers. At least that’s the hope of retailers. With the Christmas shopping season often fickle, they never know for sure. Black Friday is an example of media and commercial fabrication. It is not the busiest shopping day sales wise and pales to the day after Christmas.
Black Friday, our newest unofficial holiday, will dawn cold and cheap to thundering herds of price-crazed shoppers.
At least that’s the hope of retailers. With the Christmas shopping season often fickle, they never know for sure.
Black Friday is an example of media and commercial fabrication. It is not the busiest shopping day sales wise and pales to the day after Christmas. And the last Saturday before Christmas always beats Black Friday.
Traffic cops named the day in the 1960s. Traffic was so heavy the Friday after Thanksgiving, it was -- and is -- a nightmare.
Retailers grabbed the term for a different reason. The Christmas season often is the difference between a red or black year financially.
Online retailers now have their own celebration — the following Cyber Monday, the “first day of the online shopping season.” It’s the same shtick, except the traffic is heavy online instead of on street.
The hallmark of all is the doorbuster, a very attractive price that causes people to line up before the store opens. Beware, doorbusters often are “while supplies last” and that will not be long. Some will have time limitations.
While the days seem to telegraph lower prices, that varies widely. Prices tend to go down not due to high demand but with lack of it. That puts one or two days before Christmas as the primary hunting grounds for the dedicated price conscious.
The same rules apply as on any shopping day. Start out with a budget and a list and stick with it. Beware: Subbing a list item with a lower-price one may be expensive. Often, especially in electronics, cheap stuff doesn’t offer the performance you may expect or need.
Still, be flexible. Black Friday unadvertised deals can be amazing if you get there early enough.
You never know if you have a good deal without knowing the real price. This is what the item commonly sells for, also called the “street” price. It is not the list price, which always is higher.
With many items, such as jewelry or furniture, few pay the list price. Still, percentage-off sales almost always are calculated on the list price. If a TV is $500 list but $385 street, a 20 percent off sale saves you nothing.
Finding the street price is easy. Go to price comparison Web sites such as www.pricewatch.com, www.gottadeal.com or www.fatwallet.com
Back Friday Web sites abound. Major chains release their sale prices to them far in advance, including ads. Check www.Blackfriday.info
A Black Friday surprise: Truecar.com examined day-by-day new car discounting and found the best day is on Black Friday. The average discount off sticker is 7.5 percent compared to 4.7 percent other days. Dealership traffic is only average that day.
BLACK FRIDAY OPENINGS
(subject to change)
Most Wal-Marts will stay open all Thanksgiving night into Black Friday. Customers will line up at product displays and will be served in order.
3 a.m. Friday: Old Navy
4 a.m.: JC Penney, Kohl’s, Sears
5 a.m.: Toys R Us, Target, Meijer, Best Buy, Sam’s Club
5:30 a.m.: Radio Shack
6 a.m.: Menards, Kmart, Staples, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot
7 a.m.: Ace Hardware, Harbor Freight, Office Max