There are five things to look forward to on Thanksgiving: family, stuffing, football, pumpkin pie and Black Friday deals. As soon as you finally digest that third plate of Thanksgiving dinner, it will be time to get into your car and join hundreds (if not thousands) of frenzied shoppers eagerly awaiting deep discounts on holiday merchandise.
“I’m from the South and Black Friday is like our sport,” says Yahoo Finance personal finance writer Mandi Woodruff. “It’s our Super Bowl. It’s kind of like an adventure. You have the RV, the whole family.”
But here’s the dirty little secret about Black Friday: some of the best deals are offered in the weeks leading up to the official start of the holiday shopping season.
“Black Friday is becoming obsolete,” Woodruff explains in the accompanying video. “The entire month of November is all about sales. Retailers aren’t going to wait for Black Friday to start rolling out those deals.”
If you feel like the holiday shopping pressure comes earlier and earlier every year you’re right. At least Thanksgiving Day – which falls on Nov. 28 – used to be sacrosanct: the one day of the year when retailers locked their doors and turned customers away. Not anymore. A bevy of big box chains like Macy’s (M), Kohl’s (KSS), J.C. Penney (JCP) and Toys R Us are forcing sales associates to ring up your merchandise and wrap your gifts when we should all be fast asleep from high levels of tryptophan and overindulging on pie. Did I mention that Kmart would open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving?
Retailers may be ready for business but consumers are the wild card: with a weak economy, a lackluster jobs market and lingering apprehension over the debt ceiling/government shutdown this fall, some shoppers may prefer to sit on the sidelines. But the National Retail Federation expects the holiday shopping season to be merry: sales are projected to rise 3.9% to $602.1 billion, up from 2012’s 3.5% holiday sales growth. The holiday season – which starts a week later than usual – accounts for 20% to 40% of a retailer’s annual sales. Bargain deals may still not be enough to get people to the malls: ShopperTrak estimates that four of the 10 busiest shopping days this season will be occur between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24 -- hooray for procrastinators!
And don't feel too badly if you decide to sleep late on Black Friday. Woodruff says 70% of Black Friday deals were also posted online last year.
"If you’re shopping for yourself [on Black Friday] I wouldn't waste my time," she notes. "I would save my energy and shop after the holidays."
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