Don’t Ignore Black Friday…At Least Not Completely

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So you’re over Black Friday, huh? It’s hard to blame you, what with the media squawking about its questionable value and all the “Black Friday in July” hoopla.

And it’s not just you, by the way. RetailMeNot’s annual holiday Shoppers Trend Report finds that a mere 10 percent of holiday shoppers feel that the savings offered on Black Friday are worth the wait. So perhaps not surprisingly, shopping behavior has started to change as a result.

But you’d be foolish to totally ditch Black Friday. And let me explain why.

Black Friday isn’t dead—it’s just different.

Whereas Black Friday used to jump-start a few frantic weeks of shopping, many consumers are now taking a more leisurely and opportunistic approach in which they look for deals all year long. In fact, our poll finds that 51 percent of holiday shoppers make purchases throughout the year in preparation for the holidays. And quite frankly, this is a very savvy tactic.

After all, making purchases over an extended period of time vs. a truncated period is far gentler on your monthly budget—unless you’ve been a good egg and socked away money for holiday shopping. Plus, different times of the year see bigger sales on different items. For instance, holiday decorations, linens and video games see discounts in January; winter-travel sales are prominent in October; and swimsuits and summer apparel are discounted in July.

Look for deals throughout the year, but expect deeper discounts on electronics and computers from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

Black Friday ShoppersGetty Images

Savvy shoppers make holiday purchases gradually throughout the year, but they also know that the best time to buy toys and electronics is on or after Black Friday.

Seriously. Don’t discount Black Friday and its surrounding days, which we at RetailMeNot call the “Five Days of Savings.” Our deal data still suggests that offers during the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday are stronger on a percent-off basis than in prior weeks.

We reviewed our database of more than 50,000 merchants who offered promotions from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2014 and saw a notable spike in discounts on electronics and computers, with the average discount ranging from 38 to 40 percent off. We also found that retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s and Best Buyoffered discounts in the hard-to-ignore 50 to 70 percent off range.

Retailers are listening, and they will most certainly grant your holiday wishes.

Although shopping online is gaining in popularity, RetailMeNot predicts that shopping in stores will continue to account for close to 90 percent of overall shopping. And with only 3 percent of shoppers saying they never hunt for deals (thumbs-up, everyone!), retailers will be offering a wide range of promotions, including holiday layaway, to attract you. But what kind of promotions do you like? RetailMeNot ran a survey and discovered some cool stuff:

  • When it comes to attractive promotions, 44 percent of holiday shoppers say that money-back programs (rebates/cash-back) are best.
  • Aside from that, 37 percent say that general sales prompt them to shop, with flash-sale deals (31 percent) and door-buster offers (27 percent) being alluring promotions.
  • Fun fact: 24 percent of shoppers say gift-wrapping services encourage them to shop in stores.
  • This is music to my ears: 16% of in-store shoppers say that good holiday tunes encourages them to enter a store to shop.

So basically, don’t kiss Black Friday goodbye. Do some shopping prior to the day, but know that big discounts will be available during that Black Friday–Cyber Monday crunch. During late-period buying (post–Cyber Monday), take advantage of discounted gift cards, which you can pair with coupons to purchase items. Pro tip: Use a cash-back credit card, and you’ll see even more savings!

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