When ‘Black Friday’ Sales Don’t Happen on Black Friday—or Any Friday

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Considering that Black Friday is a totally made-up event meant to stir up retail sales during the peak winter holiday shopping season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that stores are loosey-goosey with what “Black Friday” means, or even when a “Black Friday” promotion can occur. There have been Black Friday sales starting 24 days before Black Friday, Black Friday sales beginning Thursday (Thanksgiving) night, and Black Friday sales a week after Black Friday. Even so, the current Black Friday hosted by Home Depot seems a bit much.

Why has Home Depot shifted Black Friday to springtime? Largely for the same reason that robbers target banks: This, so to speak, is where the money is to be found.

Spring is when most DIY projects take place, so Home Depot has held Black Friday sales in the springtime going on three years now. In 2001, for instance, the home improvement giant hosted Spring Black Friday events over four separate weekends in March and April. Were the sales even on Fridays? Well, yes. But they were also on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Why? Again, that’s how Home Depot could make the most money, because shoppers were much more likely to show up on a Saturday or Sunday instead of just a single Friday.

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This year, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNBC, and others have reported, Black Friday sales have been going on for a couple of weeks now, and Home Depot’s stores and website indicate that Black Friday sales will be with us for some time to come. Sure, that means that the ongoing “Black Friday” sale should be called something more accurate such as the Annual Springtime Sale, but such a phrase apparently lacks the power of the phrase “Black Friday.” So, logic and common knowledge of calendars be damned, Black Friday it is.

For whatever reason, consumers—a decent portion of us, anyway—have come to embrace Black Friday as a competitive, can’t-miss shopping event. Retailers can’t help but try to extend the craziness of an event that inspires shoppers to go to nonsensical lengths such as sleeping outside of a Best Buy for 12 days. Waiting outside of a store for 12 hours, let alone 12 days, in order to give them money probably merits a bit of self-examination, especially since it’s been demonstrated that Black Friday often doesn’t have the best prices of the holiday season.

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That’s the “real” Black Friday we’re talking about, not the imitators such as Home Depot’s Spring Black Friday. When a “Black Friday” doesn’t take place on the day after Thanksgiving, it should be regarded with a special level of skepticism, or just plain disregarded entirely. The “Early Black Friday” sales that take place in the summer or the weeks before Thanksgiving are often underwhelming—nothing more than the regular weekly specials rebranded as “Pre” or “Early” Black Friday deals.

As for Home Depot’s current Black Friday sales, they’re a mixed bag. For the most part, discounts are biggest on “select” patio furniture, grills, outdoor lighting, and other merchandise appropriate for springtime DIY projects—and it’s safe to assume that the “select” goods are leftovers from last year. Home Depot wants to unload them in order to make space for this year’s lineup, which it has a better chance of being able to sell at retail price.

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If you do find some Home Depot merchandise priced decently enough to pique your interest, follow dealnews’ advice and use the coupon code APRILHD to get an extra $10 off orders of at least $100. Free shipping is available on most orders of $45 and up as well. Just bear in mind that, on their own, there’s not much special about that kind of free shipping offer, or a “$10 off $100″ coupon. Such promotions are even more commonplace than the “Black Friday” specials that take place around the calendar year.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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