Black Friday used to be the way to save hundreds of dollars on computers and TVs by waiting in line before stores opened the day after Thanksgiving. I remember buying the “sales” newspaper on Thanksgiving, going to bed extra early (mostly from my turkey-induced coma), and getting up at 3:00 A.M. to stand in line to buy a 27-inch TV for $199 at Walmart. It was too big to fit into the trunk of my Honda Civic, and it took two of us to carry it out of the store. This year, Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Day (yes, you read that right!) at 6:00 P.M. at several stores nationwide and offers in-store deals like a 50-inch LCD TV for $199. How times have changed.
Keep in mind that some in-store Black Friday deals are limited to a few items per store. So if you’re not among the first 10 people in line, there’s a chance you won’t get the deal. If you’re not among the first 10 people, lace up your running shoes and try to outrun the competition. Moreover, although some stores open on Thanksgiving evening, as noted above, in-store deals don’t start until a designated time. This is so the vendors can lure you into the building to buy more stuff and wait around for that Inception Blu-Ray to go on sale. Be warned!
Is it worth going through all that hassle to save a few dollars? The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has your answer. In an article by Dana Mattioli, “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal,” we learn that the WSJ has been crunching data to find the best time to go shopping for deals. Surprisingly, Black Friday isn’t the best time to shop. The author even points out that some gifts actually get more expensive as the shopping season progresses. Mattioli learned that prices for gifts are usually lowest early in the holiday season, and it seems that the holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year. The WSJ tracked items like TVs and watches and determined that average prices were usually lower in October than on Black Friday and later.
Some online advocates for shopping sanity are trying to unhinge the power that Black Friday has over shoppers. This year, Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, has launched Black Friday Deals Week, aggregating all of the Black Friday deals that it can find from all other retailers in one place on Amazon. This will save you and other shoppers from driving out to get the paper on Thanksgiving and searching for the best price on that GPS you had your eyes on!
In addition, Amazon lists its “limited availability” deals, as well as upcoming deals and deals you already missed. (Don’t get down on yourself when you discover that you missed the 61-percent off deal for a 64GB Micro SD card.) And, if you sign up for Amazon Prime, you can have your gifts delivered wherever you want, gift wrapped, via free 2-day shipping to anywhere in the U.S. on eligible items.
As a tech consultant, I frequently get questions regarding where to get the best deals on computers. For years I’ve gone to Slickdeals.net to find the best prices. Slickdeals relies on users to populate the deals you can find on the Web. The site mimics a forum, so if you’re used to the layout, it shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate.
On the homepage, you’ll find Frontpage Slickdeals, the site’s best deals of the day. If a deal goes dead or expires, it will be greyed out. It’s a good way to see what other people are saying about the product and the deal, in addition to what you may have to go through to get it. Sometimes manufacturers and resellers will make you jump through hoops, making the deal not Slickdeals-worthy.
On the right side of the page, you’ll see links to Popular Deals, Local Deals, and Trending Deals. This is where things get interesting. The Popular deals are the deals that people are talking about. These may or may not include the items on the front page, but they’re definitely worth checking out. Slickdeals has also introduced a Black Friday tab that highlights every Black Friday deal out there and discusses it. It’s a great way to ensure that you’re getting the best deal and getting the product you want in the way that you want it.
This Year, Do Things Differently
Last year, you woke up five hours early and waited outside in the cold for two hours in a line 75-people deep for that laptop you’re using to read this post. Put it to good use and save yourself a trip through the madness by shopping for your Black Friday—and the rest of the holiday season’s—deals online.