The only rational explanations for lining up outside the mall before the sun rises and putting up with monster crowds to go shopping on Black Friday are: 1) You just love the crazed, festival-like atmosphere; and/or 2) you assume Black Friday gives you the best chances of buying holiday gifts at the cheapest prices. Turns out this latter assumption often isn’t true.
Is there an abundance of cheap stuff available for sale every Black Friday? You bet. (The Black Friday deals actually start on Thursday this year.) But often, the most amazing, doorbuster-type deals feature goods that are cheap not only in price, but in quality as well.
At its heart, Black Friday is a day for cheap merchandise, sold cheaply. For goods of middle- to high-quality, Black Friday isn’t necessarily the smartest day to buy.
A new Consumer Reports study actually says that when it comes to highly recommended electronics, shoppers tend to see cheaper prices—or at least prices that aren’t more expensive—if they wait until after Black Friday has passed by. Cyber Monday too.
(RealSimple.com: 7 Money-Saving, Stress-Less Holiday Shopping Tips)
Consumer Reports asked the electronics price-prediction website Decide.com to analyze data from last year regarding the price fluctuations of TVs, cameras, and laptops that came recommended by CR. The results show that, on average, shoppers seeking the best prices would be helped, and at least not hurt, if they’d waited and purchased after the Thanksgiving weekend was over:
Specifically, more than a quarter of the recommended TVs and cameras were at least 5 per cent cheaper between Cyber Monday and December 13 than they were earlier, including during the Black Friday weekend. With laptops, we provided Decide.com with a smaller sample of models, but the resulting data indicated that consumers would have been at least as likely as with TVs and cameras to save on recommended models by waiting.
Again, when it comes to cheap off-brand electronics, Black Friday is a good bet for deals. But if you’re in the market for a gadget or piece of electronica that’ll last (at least until an upgrade seems unavoidable), the smart move is to wait until the Thanksgiving weekend crowds have come and gone.
Highly-rated electronics aren’t the only goods it’s best to skip for Black Friday. Dealnews, in fact, lists 10 things not to buy on Black Friday, including top-brand TVs—totally in agreement with CR—as well as toys (typically cheapest two weeks before Christmas), jewelry (overpriced throughout the whole holiday season), and winter apparel (way cheaper in January, when retailers are already pushing spring lines).
The point is: It’s foolish to assume Black Friday is the absolute best day to shop for bargains. Now, as to that other justification for shopping on Black Friday (“You just love the crazed, festival-like atmosphere”), that one’s hard to argue with. Knock yourself out. Just don’t ask me to come along: I’ll be sleeping in.