Cliffs Notes: Black Friday

A Quick History Lesson
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005.

The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00, but in the late 2000s, many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) will open at midnight for the first time. Walmart will open at 10:00 on Thanksgiving night and Toys ‘R’ Us at 9:00. In 2010, Sears was open on Thanksgiving day.

And Now the Fun Part
In the days before the internet, shoppers relied on television commercials and newspaper ads that came out on Thanksgiving to alert them to the “door buster” specials and “one day sales” that took place on Black Friday. Now, with a few clicks of a mouse, shoppers can arm themselves with coupons, sale information and even participate in the madness without leaving their home.

Already, some deals have begun (see Amazon’s week long sale and Walmart’s pre-Black Friday sales). For me though, the real fun is being out among the masses. Just seeing folks running through the mall while carrying armloads of shopping bags gives me joy. The added benefit of picking up a few items on sale is just icing on the cake.

There are a lot of websites the comb the internet and put all of the sales in one place. These are a great resource, especially if you don’t get a local paper delivered to your house that contains the store circulars.

Black Friday News
Black Friday Ads

Black Friday Info
Coupon Sherpa (Contains store opening times)
Top Ten Black Friday Blogs (lists some of these sites plus more)
Ask Men (Lists out the top 10 best Black Friday Deals)

If you’re not Facebook “Friends” with your favorite retailers, now’s the time to “Like” these retailers. More retailers are going social, offering special discount codes to preferred friends on Facebook and Twitter. “It’s a good idea to add your favorite stores to your friend list — at least for the time being,” he says.  Retailers like the Gap are even providing Facebook Credit as rewards to users who sign up for its email newsletter.

Another new trend consumers can take advantage of to make the most of leaving the house Black Friday is the explosion of mobile apps that enhance the shopping experience. Keep your smartphone at the ready on the big day to fact-check any deals before purchasing. The best app for price-scanning: Red Laser. And the best app for mobile coupons: Coupon Sherpa. With the Holiday Gift List app you can track your spending and stick to your budget while FourSquare can help you take advantage of local sales and deals based on location, or even freebie restaurant offers of cheap coffee breaks during your shopping spree.

Compare prices. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, Consumer Reports found an electric percolator “on sale” at Kohl’s stores and Kohls.com for $61.99, a discount from the regular $69.99. But those prices are higher than the $59.99 manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Using a Web search, CR found better deals. The best price was $30.03 plus $8.21 shipping at Sale Stores.

Check reviews on sites such as Cnet and make sure you’re clear on the features of those electronics that you are considering. Black Friday is all about rock-bottom prices on no-name goods (or those that aren’t so familiar). That’s fine if it’s not going to be your primary TV, or if you only need a limited number of features on that Blu-ray player.

Look for coupons. Once you know what items you intend to purchase and the stores offering these products for a great price, see who will sweeten the deal. Department stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s regularly offer coupons that can take an additional 20% to 30% off sale prices. And many online retailers allow you to stack percentage-off or free shipping coupon codes on top of Black Friday prices, making one seller’s price for that cashmere sweater cheaper in the long run. You can find coupon codes on sites such as Gottadeal.com, eDeals.com, Slickdeals and RetailMeNot.

Good luck and Godspeed! Please eeport back on any incredible deals you may find (or hilarious stories you may experience!)

Cyber Monday

After the turkey has been carved, the parade has passed Macy’s on 34th street and the relatives return home we come back to work on Monday, a little rounder around the belly. While we have enjoyed time away from the office, many people will return to work exhausted from the holiday festivities. And this is only the beginning. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can focus on the remainder of the holiday season. For many of us, this means stringing lights, hanging ornaments and breaking out the Christmas music. It is the most wonderful time of the year and sometimes the most tiring. However, I for one, think it is entirely worth it.

After Thanksgiving, my mom sister and I participated in the craziness that is Black Friday. While my mom and Abby stocked up on Christmas presents for nearly everyone on their list, I concentrated on myself (talk about holiday spirit). As they walked around the store finding things for cousins, aunts, grandparents and friends, I walked around the stores picking up things for myself. This year, I am having a hard time coming up with good ideas for presents, and since I know what I want, it was simply easier to shop for myself. And clearly, I was trying to make the most out of the great sales! Unfortunately, when we returned and looked at our purchases, I realized that I was no closer to being complete with holiday shopping.

So now I am sitting at work, scanning the websites of stores. Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. In 2009, it was reported that consumers spent $887M online on Cyber Monday (excluding travel), the second highest spending day of 2009. Data has shown that Cyber Monday online sales have always been driven by considerable buying activity from work locations. That pattern hasn’t changed. After returning from the long Thanksgiving weekend with a lot of holiday shopping still ahead of them, many consumers tend to continue their holiday shopping from work. Whether to take advantage of the extensive Cyber Monday deals offered by retailers or to buy gifts away from the prying eyes of family members, this day has become an annual ritual for America’s online holiday shoppers.

So for anyone else who is sitting at work scanning the sales, here are some of the top deals going on right this very instant. So make yourself some hot chocolate, set your Pandora to Christmas music and let the festivities begin! (Please note that the first three sites are all part of my registry – what a strange coincidence!)

Crate And Barrel 

The Deal: Stemware, barware, dinnerware

Houseware giant Crate & Barrel is offering 25% off on all kinds of items, across the store, from martini glasses to starter dining sets.

Macy’s

The Deal: The better question is, what isn’t on sale?

The magic of Macy’s includes clothing, jewelry, home goods and kitchen tools. Just enter the code “CYBER” into the coupon code before checking out.

REI

The Deal: Up to 30% off winter gear, clothing and camping supplies!

Great gifts for all of those outdoorsy relatives. Check out the steep discounts on Padagonia jackets and Smart Wool socks. Just in time for winter!

Kohls

The Deal: Pillows, mattresses, watches, outerwear

Retail giant Kohl’s slashes prices on its site 35% to 60%, on everything from watches and jewelry to outerwear and home goods.

Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft

The Deal: 40% off EVERY THING plus free shipping

For the fashionista on your list. Use code “ENJOY” at checkout.

Victorias Secret

The Deal: Dresses, jackets, shoes

Victoria Secret is offering up to 70% off select bras, underwear and sleepwear. Shoppers who buy sleepwear will receive a free pair of slippers if they use the code VS10SLEEP at checkout–and anyone can receive free shipping on their order if they enter the code SHIPVS1. Get your holiday jammies before it is too late!

Check out these sites for other great deals:

Handmade gifts

Photo gifts

Sports gifts

Unique gifts