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The Pros and Cons of Shopping on Black Friday

Nov. 25, 2015
Black Friday, Shopping
The Pros and Cons of Shopping on Black Friday
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You’ve scanned the ads and thought about the gifts you need and the things you’d like to find on sale during Black Friday. You’ve done price comparisons and even mapped out where you want to shop.

But you might be feeling relaxed after Thanksgiving dinner, and the thought of getting up before the sun (or, in some cases, shopping late into the night) might not be so appealing. As the holiday fades, many people are going to wonder: Will shopping on Black Friday be worth it?

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of heading out on Black Friday (or, in some cases, on Thanksgiving Day).

Pro: Stores offer giveaways

Whether it’s rewards for store members, prizes for the first 100 people in line or store sweepstakes, there are a variety of ways to win on Black Friday. If you don’t mind standing in line, here are some stores that offer a little something extra to the first bunch of folks outside their doors.

  • Cabela’s: $15,000 in prizes to the first 500 people in line at 5 a.m. on Black Friday
  • Sports Authority: $15 in Sports Authority bucks (which go toward any purchase in the store) to the first 80 people in line at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works are also known for their giveaway tote bags, handed out to customers throughout the day on Black Friday.

Con: Sales are limited in quantity or time

A downside to some of the Black Friday sales are the restrictions in some ads’ fine print. When you see an ad with great deals, but it also reads “while supplies last” and “limited quantity,” you won’t know exactly how many items are in stock. Or an item could be 50% off, but only from 6 to 7 a.m. Make sure to read ads thoroughly and contact local stores to see just how many items will be available.

Pro: Consumer electronics deals abound

An upside to the Black Friday sales are the deals on consumer electronics. Retailers offer discounts on the latest models of TVs, computers, Apple products, smartphones, tablets and wearable tech. Some older models might go on sale as well. Be sure to price compare and even to price match.

Con: Promotions may not be such bargains

Some ads may have us drooling over seemingly low prices, but don’t be duped. A recent analysis of Black Friday ads by NerdWallet and Harris Poll found that 93% of the ads this year are exactly the same as those last year.

The study also found that the deals were available at other times throughout the year. NerdWallet’s study also found that some retailers increase their prices just before Black Friday, therefore making the savings seem bigger than they are. If you don’t particularly need an item, and just feel like splurging because it’s on sale, take a step back and remember that it might be available at a steeper discount later on.

Pro: You can get a feeling of satisfaction

Marking things off your holiday shopping list feels great, and knowing you scored a few discounts along the way makes it even more rewarding. Some shoppers use Black Friday sales as a time to stock up on holiday decorations, everyday household products or bulk items in preparation for party hosting just a few weeks away. Others use the weekend of Black Friday to knock out their gift shopping in one fell swoop. If you’re an all-in shopper and prefer spending a long weekend getting it all done, Black Friday deals might leave you content.

Con: You’ll have to fight the crowds

A downside we’re all aware of is the fact that you can’t avoid the long lines and the large crowds on Black Friday. We’ve seen the photos and videos of, or even experienced ourselves, the often mob-size groups at door-buster sales. Many people are over-excited and may have given up sleep to get into early morning lines. This is one aspect of Black Friday that shoppers must weigh carefully when evaluating whether the day after Thanksgiving sales really are worth it to them.

Making your decision

If you do determine that Black Friday shopping could be beneficial to you, make it more fun by venturing out with family and friends. Be sure you’ve done your homework and know which retailers you want to visit and when, as planning ahead will maximize your chances of success.

Image via iStock.