Is Black Friday Worth It?

The day after Thanksgiving used to be the best day to score a deal, but that's not always the case anymore.

By Liane Cassavoy

It’s a great American tradition: Turkey, football, and… crazed holiday shopping.

That’s right, we’re talking about Black Friday. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, when, historically, the holiday shopping season kicks off and retailers offer their best prices of the year.

But the operative word is "historically." To many people, Black Friday is fast becoming a relic of the past. These days, the holiday shopping season is longer than ever–as evidenced by retailers bringing in Christmas decorations in early September. While that may be annoying to some, it can be good news for bargain hunters, as retailers offer holiday sales starting earlier.

Even Black Friday specials are no longer relegated to just one day: many retailers, both online and off, start early and many extend their “Black Friday” sales through the entire post-Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, DealNews.com says that some of the best bargains can be found as early as a week before Thanksgiving.

image

But there are those people who still love Black Friday. You know who I mean: The ones who swear that even though you have to wake up before the sun, deal with insane hordes of shoppers, and wait in mile-long lines, it’s all worth it to get the deal of the year. Even if you’re taking your safety into your own hands. (There is a website morbidly called BlackFridayDeathCount, after all.)

Is it worth it?

So, who’s right and who’s wrong? Is Black Friday shopping worth the hassle? Let’s take a look.

First of all, if you can’t deal with crowds and chaos, do yourself a favor and stay home. But that doesn’t mean that Black Friday is a bust for you. Plenty of retailers offer online deals as well as those found in stores. So fire up the computer and have a look. DealNews suggests favorites like Amazon and Target for the best online deals, while noting other sites, like NewEgg.com, for certain technology purchases.

And speaking of technology, if you’re shopping for a specific item, Black Friday could be the day for you. Retailers are known to offer steep discounts on certain types of electronics on Black Friday, including TVs, laptops, game systems, and more. But many of the best deals may be “doorbuster” type sales that last only a few hours right at midnight or in the very early morning, and run out when a very limited inventory is done.  So be prepared to set that alarm and get an early start.

Wikipedia/ProjectManhattan

You’re likely to find decent Black Friday deals on lower-end laptops and TVs, but if you’re in the market for high-end gear, the holidays are not the best time to shop. Consumer Reports compared TV prices on Black Friday with those leading up to the Super Bowl–often considered the best time to buy a TV–and found that Black Friday was better for scoring deals on lower-end TVs, while high-performing sets were priced better in the new year.

Similarly, laptop prices tend to be at their lowest during the back-to-school shopping season, LaptopMag.com reports. Still deals on laptops can be found around the holidays and on Black Friday, especially on lower-end devices.

The key to Black Friday–and any shopping day, really–is to be an informed shopper. Just because a device is on sale, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bargain. Next week, we’ll talk about great ways to be an informed Black Friday shopper.

Until then, here are some other Black Friday articles you might want to check out:

Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Survival Guide

Save Cash With These 9 Essential Black Friday Apps

And happy shopping!

Main image: Flickr/Powhusku