How much of a retail scam is Black Friday?

A confession… I avoid the malls on Black Friday. I despise crowds. Think I’m camping out in the parking lot, the night before for some great deal? Hell No. :stuck_out_tongue:

However, lets pretend I was at the mall at 4AM this morning. Shoulder pads, jock strap & cup, knee pads, and pepper spray. I’m ready to power shop on black Friday. :smiley:

Would I really, really save a crap load of money on deals?

I know there’s always loss leader specials to coax buyers in the door. But don’t they make up that money with all the other stuff people buy that isn’t marked down? Isn’t the store like a Casino and they always come out ahead? One buyer saves money and ten others don’t?

Are you smarter to watch for store specials in July, August, & Sept. and buy then?

I’m just curious.

The stores are having sales in order to make money, so they have definitely calculated which discounts will be most effective in allowing them to make the greatest profit. I wouldn’t call it a scam, I’d call it capitalism, like any sale. I wouldn’t imagine that they make a tremendous amount of money on things that aren’t marked down at least a little (possibly from an overinflated retail price), because people who shop on Black Friday are almost exclusively looking for deals. But it’s like the Change Bank – they make money on the volume. I do think that the discounts are steeper on Black Friday than at a lot of other sales.

I have my eye on a jacket that was originally $59.00. Back in September, it was on sale for $45.00. More recently, I saw it on sale for $30.00. And this week I saw a Black Friday ad offering it for $25.00. Seems like a good deal to me.

One thing that I know the stores do is to offer very limited quantities at the lowest prices. I saw a disclaimer in the K-Mart ad for some electronic item that they guaranteed to have “at least three” in each store. So you could get a good price, but you’d have to be quick.

I’d be willing to bet that for some people it’s more of a tradition than a quest for deals. There seems to be a point of pride with some folks to get all their shopping done on this one day.

I only ventured out in the wee small hours of Black Friday one time, and I ended up returning half of what I bought 3 or 4 days later. I got caught up in the frenzy and filled my car with crap that seemed like a good idea at the time. Never again…

4AM? Well, by that time you would have missed it. Didn’t you hear? It started as early as 10PM the night before and mostly at midnight everywhere else. You would have missed the boat.

If you stick to only the sales and things on your list, you should be fine. It’s the other crazy folk who don’t do so well. Last night, the only thing I got that was not on my list were gloves and window washer fluid. (The laptop line was coralled into the sporting goods dept.)

I hit two walmarts at 9 and 9:30. The xboxes, which were to be handed out at midnight, had been handed out to people who were in line at 8pm Thursday. The lines for people to save some percentage on blenders was…surprising.

This is a common way of thinking that stores exploit during sales like this. Many people end up buying stuff they don’t necessarily want or need, just because it’s heavily discounted from the so-called regular price. Instead of thinking about whether that jacket is worth the $25, people tend to think, “Well, it’s half price. I can’t afford not to buy it!” Although there are some loss leaders, stores tend to make profits on most things they sell, even at discounts, and these supposed good deals help to whip up the crowd into a consumerist frenzy.

This article says that some stuff is cheaper at other times of the year. Toys, it says, will be cheaper in the next few weeks because the stores need to clear out inventory, but then the prices will rise the week before Christmas, because the inventory is lower (and perhaps the shoppers are more desperate). Appliances are discounted at the end of the fiscal quarter.

True in a general sense, but I’m assuming from the phrasing ( “I have my eye on a jacket…” ) that SpoilerVirgin wants this item, hence watching the price for three months. In that case you have the opposite phenomenon than the one you are decrying - smart consumerism, patiently waiting to the item you desire has sunk to a semi-reasonable price, rather than paying full retail.

Exactly. I first spotted the jacket in September, and had been watching the price fall ever since – maybe I’ll wait until after Christmas, when I can get it for $15.00. :slight_smile: I cited my experience as an example that some things really are priced better on Black Friday than they are earlier in the year.

One of the local stations aired some footage last night of people waiting in a line for a chance at a 42" television for something like $198. Apparently the ad guaranteed “at least 10” units at each location, and there looked to be scores or even hundreds of people lined up. One woman perched a ways back in the queue said, “Well, if I don’t get one of the sale prices, I’ll probably buy it anyway.” I think that’s pretty much the scam of Black Friday; it’s a just a bait and switch with willing victims.

I’d feel sorry for the Christmas people that get sucked up in the hysteria, but they seem to enjoy it and don’t need my sympathy.

I’m almost 40 and so far I’ve managed to avoid going shopping on Black Friday every year of my life. I don’t plan on changing any time soon.

I noticed that both Best Buy and Amazon have the camera I’ve been keeping my eye on (Canon sx230) for $199 today. It had been jumping around from ~$299 to $329 since July. I’m still contemplating buying it.

The only shopping I did today was for pet food - I needed it, I had a $10 off coupon for it good only today & tomorrow, and the pet food store was donating a pound of pet food for every person who came to their store between 7 and 9 am today - 2 pounds if you brought your pet.

Black Friday. Some people love it. Fine. Shop and be happy.

But for god’s sake, news media, shut the fuck up!! That’s where the real scam comes from. They keep blaring on about this Black Friday bullshit and on and on and on until you wish the damn campers in the parking lots would be cleared out by the National Guard.

I won’t shop Black Friday. I never will. So quit fucking nagging me like I personally am letting the economy down by not sitting in a goddamn tent in front of a Best Buy.

To the question in the OP, I have an acquaintance who works retail for a national chain store that sells higher-end gift type items. As they have traditionally done for black Friday sales, they are having a store-wide markdown to get people in the door.

This year the store-wide markdown is 25% - every item in the store is 25% of for some specified period of time ending Friday morning or something. I asked her if with this markdown there is any item in the entire store that would be sold at a loss. She said no.

Fascinating insight.

My opinion is just a valid as anyone else’s. Deal with it.

I generally buy gifts throughout the year, and I buy things like wrapping paper, ornaments, and decorations for Xmas sometime between December 26 and 30. You know, when they’re marked down at least 50%. I find that I can save money and time and frustration this way. From the day before Thanksgiving to the day after Xmas, I only buy perishable staples. My freezer and pantry are full. I will occasionally venture out to eat and to get some milk and eggs and possibly some meat, but other than that, I don’t shop during the Xmas season. It’s just madness, and I really don’t NEED to do it. I save my ornaments and decorations from one year to the next. We don’t need that much wrapping paper, because we use and re-use bags and boxes, and of course those are put up with the stuff that I buy on sale. I’ve even made some cloth drawstring bags, which we re-use each year. Again, I bought the material on sale after Xmas. It’s printed fabric with seasonal or at least cheery patterns on it.

Your “good deal” is still profitable for them. One formula that I saw would put the wholesale cost of your jacket at $9.45
And that same formula would have the cost to make your jacket at $2.36.

I ran a black Friday sale at my dealership.
Two coupons one for a basic oil change, the other for a tire rotation. Both were 66% off the regular price. I limited it to the first 20 people.
We opened at 6 and offered shuttle to the nearby mall.
I had people lined up at 5:45, and we did about 130% of our normal daily car count.
Did I make additional profit today? I won’t see the reports till Monday, but if I did it wasn’t much. However the customers liked it and it bought some goodwill which is what I was looking for.
Will I do it again? I think I might.