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As a tradition, I used to go with my parents to Desert Hills Premium Outlet Stores on Black Friday. It was a full day’s trip, and we would spend the day rummaging through bins and circulars for clothes, watches, and shoes for Christmas presents.
The Black Friday shopping tradition eventually ended when the marvel of receiving clothes and shoes for Christmas died off. My family and I expected more or less the same kinds of gifts, and exchanges between us no longer felt exciting.
As I got older, I started shopping on Black Friday with my friends. We made intricate game plans – we organized which stores to go to first, what items to buy first, and agreed to split up in the store and grab anything the other person might want to buy. But as our plans got more devious, the stress got worse. Black Friday stopped feeling like a conquest and started feeling more like returning from war – disappointed, bruised, empty-handed, and filled with regret.
A few holiday seasons ago I decided to decline my friend and family’s invitations to go shopping on Black Friday in attempts to keep my budget (and physical body) intact, but I took a peek online and actually found the best deals I’d ever gotten on gifts! Since then, I started my very own tradition of staying at home during Black Friday. If you’re still on the fence about doing the same, I’d consider the following before deciding to stick to tradition.
#1: I don’t like getting beat up.
One Black Friday a friend and I went to Urban Outfitters first since they were known for having amazing deals. The enormous line of people outside should have been a red flag to us, but we took a leap of faith and joined in. As soon as the doors opened, we pushed and shoved our way into the store. It was packed like sardines and downright frightening. The crowd determined which direction we went, even if it was against our will – the pushing was far too strong. Someone tried to snatch my beanie off my head, thinking it was merchandise! It hit the ground, and I had to fight my way to stoop down and grab it – big mistake. The crowd pushed so hard that I couldn’t get back to standing up, and then my shoe was kicked off. I had to scramble across the floor to try to get it, and then fight my way back up to standing position.
Meanwhile, my friend was stuck in the women’s area and resorted to literally climbing over a huge shelf (she is a rock climber, so I’m not exaggerating when I say “climb”). The women’s area was completely packed, so she climbed over to exit quickly through to the men’s side.
Needless to say, I left the store after an hour empty-handed and spotted with bruises.
#2: I wind up buying things I don’t need.
Once I went to Old Navy to take advantage of some unbelievable sales, but everyone I was shopping for wore nothing from Old Navy. I went in there and bought lots of things – shirts, outerwear, flip-flops – all for me. I bought them because the prices were so good, but I personally didn’t even like Old Navy either! I never wore a single item I purchased that day and wound up donating everything eventually.
#3: I don’t get everything on my list.
Because you’re fighting crowds, waiting in line, and shoveling for items, you can waste hours in a single store. Unless you’re the type to intensely plan each and every purchase ahead of time by utilizing store flyers or online articles, it’s really hard to end a Black Friday with every item on your list checked off. Items go out of stock really quickly, they run out of sizes, you might run out of time, or the deals may not be as great as you expected.
#4: I can’t be everywhere at once.
Some stores open at the same time. What do you do? Split yourself in half?
I was once torn between going to my favorite outdoor store REI, or go to the mall. REI was giving away free $25 gift cards to the first 100 people entering the store, but the nearby mall had a bunch of clothing stores I wanted to go also. My friend and I wound up going to REI and entering the store twice to leave some stuff in the car, but the second time we entered we had no jacket or beanie on. The people at the door gave us a second gift card, so we got $50 worth of gift cards. It was definitely worth it, but we spent so much time there that we missed out on a lot of deals at the mall.
My shift in perspective: Why I shop online on Black Friday
The year I quit my job left me with little money to play with, but after casually strolling through my favorite websites online I realized that the deals I saw online were way better than in-store. With the prices being so low, I was able to fit some Christmas presents into my budget, and everyone got something they liked. When my family came home with their spoils, I found that my conquests were far better! I continue this tradition for a few different reasons.
#1: The discounts are bigger and more abundant
In 2014 I was able to get a pair of Levi’s 535 Leggings for $24.99 that normally retail for $49.50. I also snagged a pair of genuine leather high-heel pumps at Zara for $50 after shipping. These deals weren’t hard to find at all! By visiting all of my favorite retailers online I found plenty of sales.
#2: Physical comfort and convenience
Staying in bed wearing pajamas armed with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and my laptop sounds way better than having to wake up at the crack of dawn to get a battle scar from a lady who beat you up over a DVD player. You don’t have to get up extra early, get dressed, eat, and travel out to the stores, which is extremely convenient. That’s more time for you to actually shop!
#4: You can shop at several stores at once
With a single click, I can open multiple windows and shop across many storefronts at the same time. No longer do you have to dream of cloning yourself and splitting up to enter several stores, you can divide and conquer all stores online! Not only does this prevent you from missing out on deals and discounts, but this gives you the ability to do some effective comparison shopping. Maybe a store ran out of your size? No problem – the right one is just a Google search away!
#5: You can get everything you want
Gone are the days of wasting your money on things you don’t need, and say goodbye to the disappointment you feel when you can’t find that particular something you had in mind. The power of Google allows you to quickly search for the exact item you need. Have a specific holiday shopping list? It’s tough to check off every item when you’re in-store. You’ve got significantly better odds at finding your item, and again, can comparison shop to find the best price!
My favorite places to shop online
- Groupon: There are some really great deals on refurbished electronics from Bose, Beats by Dre, and Samsung. You also never know if they give you additional savings on local deals as well!
- Amazon: If you’ve got a Prime membership, take advantage of it. You’ve got access to the best deals before non-Prime members do. Amazon already has extremely low prices already, but they’ve got even better deals on Black Friday.
- Levi’s: I get 1 or 2 pairs of jeans from Levi’s every year, since I can get the exact pair I want with the right size and inseam (I’m short and curvy, so shopping for jeans is really tough!). Their past Black Friday sales were about 40% off or more, which is pretty good for a long-lasting and durable pair of Levi’s.
- Coastal Scents: Their palettes make great gifts to the makeup guru in your life or even for yourself! Prices are already affordable (usually $25 – $30 or less), and with discounts you can snag a few for others.
- Edens Garden: My favorite essential oil brand can only be purchased on Amazon or directly through their website, which has the best prices and free shipping all the time. They have some customizable gift sets too!
- TJ Maxx: If you spend a lot of thought into your gifts, I’ve found that TJ Maxx has a wide array of higher-end items for discounted prices. I’ve thrown together some really nice spa-themed gift sets for the ladies with quality brands like Stri-Vectin, Hempz, Bedhead and more! I personally love their brands in their hair, bath and beauty section.
With Black Friday being such a huge event, online retailers are trying to milk the sales demand of shoppers by promoting Black Friday preview sales as well as post-Black Friday sales. Cyber Monday, another online-exclusive sale event following Black Friday, has also grown to become yet another huge sale. So although Black Friday may be the best in-store sale of the year, you have multiple opportunities before and afterward to grab more deals online.
Comparison shopping and large discounts in the comfort of your own home: tell us, will you be staying home this year for Black Friday? Let us know in the comments below!
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