Black Friday shopping is overrated

By James Stein Dec 3, 2021
Cartoon by Liam Killian
Cartoon by Liam Killian

Black Friday is known for crowds of people lining up as early as three or four in the morning anticipating the insane deals from department stores that provide hundreds of dollars in savings. The typical movie scene with two middle aged women fighting over the last Playstation in stock for their sons’ Christmas gifts is what comes to my mind when I think of this long-awaited unofficial holiday. But these past couple of years have brought Black Fridays that have been more than disappointing with deals that hardly make the long lines and disputes between customers worth it.

My favorite store, Free People, offers their usual 30 percent off sale every Black Friday. Although it sounds like a generous offer, this discount barely makes a dent in the price. But by the time I headed to Free People after the line dispersed, the items that were on sale were picked over, only having a few sizes to choose from. I went home empty handed, and noticed the same trend online as well, so making the hassle of the trip feel pointless and unnecessary. 

Another favorite of mine, Anthropologie, always has a variety of items to choose from with a wide range of prices, which often makes their typical 30 percent off discount worth it. Especially for gifts, this has served me well over the years. But this Black Friday, it just didn’t cut it. I noticed they repeated a lot of favorites from last year’s holiday collection, which immediately let down my expectations. In the future, I feel that Anthro could include its sale section in the 30 percent off discount for Black Friday. At this point of the year, their sale room is already overflowing and this addition could serve as an additional asset in attracting customers to their locations. 

Since COVID hit, some regular customers at local department stores have become more reluctant to head into their local mall to treat themselves with retail therapy. The frequency of online shopping across product categories has increased from 6 to 10 percentage points since COVID started. Resorting to online shopping has served as a beneficial substitute for those that are a little more apprehensive to face the crowds. But even the online deals of Cyber Monday aren’t as favorable, as most of them are identical to the sales for in-store purchases. The online sales frequently continue after Black Friday is over, which also can deter customers from continuing to head to the mall every year if they can receive the same deals from the comfort of their own home for the days following. 

Don’t get me wrong— I truly do love the in person experience of shopping in-store, and sometimes facing the long lines of Black Friday are worth it. Although it may not be as convenient as shopping online, being able to try on items before buying them and having the authentic face-to-face interaction with the cashiers and sales associates make it even more worthwhile. But I feel that such companies are discouraging their loyal customers from wanting to partake in the in-store experience of Black Friday shopping with the less favorable deals in combination with the luxury of not having to leave the living room couch. 

Although indulging in the deals can help save me money, they just aren’t worth the hassle. Until department stores can make the Black Friday shopping experience more enjoyable by including a wider variety of items with generous discounts, I will continue to prefer to buy merchandise after Black Friday has passed. 


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