Black Friday Sales: Are They Worth the Hype?

Are you one of those folks who will risk life and limb just to get that 50-inch plasma HDTV for just under $600 next Friday? How about getting in line after a big turkey dinner and camping outside a store for the night just to snag a laptop for $298? Or maybe you’ll get the whole enchilada — CNN Money claims Black Friday is the best day to buy a new car.

But what makes the day after Thanksgiving so darned special? It seems that retailers could offer great sales on certain items any other time of the year. It’s a big lure. The specials are dangled in front of shoppers in the form of shiny circulars with “SALE!” in big, bold letters. Ooh, a toaster for $3! Gotta get that — who cares if you have a perfectly fine toaster in your kitchen, it’s THREE DOLLARS! And who can pass up a new digital camera for the low, low price of 200 smackeroos?

I can pass it up. I can pass it ALL up. 

Retailers are counting on shoppers rushing to the store to get that one item at an unbelievable price and leaving with lots of not-so-cheap stuff just because it’s the holiday season — that $10 scarf-and-gloves set or those wine glasses might come in handy as a gift. Most of the sales revolve around gadgets like computers, video games, cameras, televisions and GPS systems.

The history behind Black Friday isn’t too clear — according to the scourge that is Wikipedia, the name Black Friday goes back to “at least 1966.” It could also have be coined in Philadelphia in response to the heavy traffic following the Thanksgiving holiday. Yet another explanation is that it referred to a speculator-caused collapse of the gold market in 1869, which led to a nationwide financial freakout. But what makes the most sense is that the term came about because it heralds the start of the holiday shopping season, when retailers’ ledgers get back into the “black.”

No matter the definition, Black Friday isn’t a big tease for me. On that day, I’ll be home, sitting on the sofa, nursing a bloated tummy from all of the delicious food I’d eaten the day before and thinking about the next turkey sandwich — not the next great deal!

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