Many years ago, Americans celebrated a holiday that came right after Thanksgiving. This holiday has prompted lots of shopping. This holiday is known as Christmas. It was still a month away. However, it was predicated upon a non-retail related historical event. Thus, Black Friday was created. It too has history; it’s the day when many retailers’ accounts move into the black. In order to mark the miracle transformation and erase any red ink remaining, sales are made and customers go on their way.
The market has always been a place where people can socialize, exchange ideas, and find mutually rewarding deals. And after a period of pandemic-induced deprivation—both from fellow humans and the abundance of goods—many Americans are really looking forward to Black Friday this year. The retailers are thrilled to match their enthusiasm and have increased the promotion. Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart have all embraced Black Friday creep, offering discounts as far back as November 3. Due to difficulties in the supply chain, certain highly desired products such as computers or TVs may not be as easily available as they were previously. According to the latest shopping statistics, there has been some demand.
This is all to say that it might be a unique Black Friday. You can do the day right by following these tips. Consumer Reports suggests adding a browser extension in order to verify that those discounts are real and not just an offer on the markup. The best bargain-savvy people recommend buying early. Many financial advisers advise that clients stick to a budget.
Financial experts say the secret to a successful Black Friday deal isn’t about finding great deals. It’s about finding yourself. “Shopping is not a one size fits all experience,” says Paco De Leon, a financial planner and the author of the upcoming Finance for the People. Six tips to help you plan your shopping strategy
Make sure you have FOMO
A large number of deals and crowds can result in major Fear of Missing Out. Everyone doesn’t want to be that chump who pays full price the day before, or the two days after everybody else gets the large-screen TV at 25% discount. “I think it’s really challenging for people who are already anxious, especially,” says De Leon. “They’re constantly weighing when the best deals are happening. What time is it? Will it be on Black Friday? Just dealing with that level of uncertainty is really stressful and stress inducing.” If this sounds like you, De Leon suggests stepping back and acknowledging the amount of manipulation to which you are being subjected, especially digitally. “Social media is our own personal billboard that we have updating and constantly it knows us better than we know us.” Studies have shown that those who tend to be compulsive or impulsive are more likely to overspend. It might be wise to limit their involvement or stick to a very strict budget.
Do you love shopping—or just bargains?
In February, this study found that family members have an insatiable love for bargains. Sometimes families buy together to have fun and so it becomes a part of their lives. Researchers also discovered that identical and fraternal twins have different shopping preferences. They are called These People in the Academy deal-prone. “They love to get a bargain. It empowers them, it motivates them,” says Robert Schindler, professor of Marketing at Rutgers University, Camden and the study’s lead author. Although almost everybody enjoys saving money and is a good deal-seeker, only half the people are actually that way. Deal-seekers will often go to great lengths to get a deal. “You have these rich people, who have the penthouse on top of the high rise and they’re still deal-prone,” says Schindler. During his research, Schindler interviewed a woman who could name how much the discount was on each item in her home—even though she purchased some of them more than two decades ago.
But on a day like Black Friday—when everything’s a deal—people who are deal-prone can easily get swept away. “When you get a discount, you generally do not get exactly what you want,” says Schindler. “You’re going to buy things on sale because they’re on sale and you’ll see that you didn’t like them. The deals distorted your decision process. So you end up being less satisfied.” If you’re overly tempted by deals, go in with a shopping list and stick to it.
De Leon keeps a buy list, a taxonomy of all the things she’d like to buy. De Leon revisits her list regularly to add and delete items. She considers it a must-have if something is on her wish list for quite some time.
A wingman is a person who helps others.
A wingman is someone who acts as an advisor and can pull the emergency brake in case your basket becomes too full. Schindler admits that not all friends can brake well. “It depends on the friend you bring. And you’re probably going to want to bring a friend that thinks like you because, I mean, who wants to bring a friend who’s like, ‘You’d better not do that.’ That’s not much of a friend; that’s your mom.” On the other hand, having a friend with whom you can switch out standing in the checkout line as the other person runs around looking for more bargains can be a real time saver.
Change the narrative about scarcity
Marketers urge retailers to create a scarcity mentality around their offers. “These deals can’t last!!” messages abound. These messages can bring a sense of joy to proceedings, but they also encourage people to act impulsively. “If you’ve grown up with financial scarcity, or you have [a history of] trauma when it comes to scarcity, and you’re met with these kinds of sales, you might react in like what looks like an irrational way or a way that’s not in your best interest,” says De Leon. People feel they have to buy items even if they don’t need them. Her email address is the only one she has. This allows her to register for any promotions or websites. However, she does not check it often and keeps away from sales calls with countdown clocks. A filter in an email can help you funnel promotions into separate folders. When shopping in person, remember the epic advice from Sandra Bullock’s character Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side: “The store’s where you like it the best.” If you don’t love it there, you’ll like it even less at home.
Consider your motives
A deal can be more than a means to save money for some. It’s a way of establishing their identity, their status. They must have the ability to outsmart other businesses or consumers. “It’s a game, it’s a hunt,” says Schindler. “Plus, you’re fighting against the big corporations. So when you win against them, you know, you’ve done something, it feels good.” In those cases, the point of the purchase is not because you need a product; the point is filling an internal void. If you can’t afford to spend the money, look for another way to satisfy that need.
Do you think generously or are you apathetic?
A lot of people get tempted to buy items because they know that if they can’t use it, they can store it and give it away later. But a 2015 study suggests that while people who keep gift closets think they are being good givers because they always have a gift ready for any opportunity, recipients aren’t so sure. A lot of recipients think that gifts they believe came from large inventories are less meaningful than those they choose. You could also think that the gift giver might not have bothered. “People [with gift closets] aren’t saving money,” says Schindler.
Retail therapy is real, says De Leon, but it doesn’t really work. “We have to face ourselves and we have to ask the questions,” she says. “Everybody has their own unique story of why shopping makes them feel good. I think we all have to do the work and understand if our behaviors are not matching up with what our intentions are.” Schindler is more phlegmatic: “IIf you love getting deals, then go for it. That’s what life is about: doing what you enjoy, ” he says. But he warns people not to kid themselves that they’re improving their finances or being fiscally responsible. “If that’s what you think you’re doing, maybe you should think again.”