The Myth of Great Savings on Black Friday

The Myth of Great Savings on Black Friday

Think about this for a moment: if you ran a retail store and you knew there was a day of the year when you were guaranteed a lot of shoppers coming into your store and spending a lot of money, would that be the day that you held a blowout sale with your lowest prices ever?

Probably not.

Sales and cost-cutting measures are often used as marketing techniques to generate interest — to get people to come into the store. You don’t usually make a lot of money on the big sale items. You might even sell them at wholesale value. But they get people into the store, where they spend a dollar on this sale item, a dollar on that one. While they’re there, they spot that twenty dollar item they’ve been looking for.

If people are already coming in, you don’t need to cut your prices in half. And yet, the myth persists that Black Friday is the one and only day when you’re going to get the very best deal on things like TVs and laptops.

There is some modest price-cutting around this time of year, but any store owner who sets their prices as low as possible on the day after Thanksgiving is one who suffers from a clear lack of understanding of the art of marketing.

The Wall Street Journal has exposed the Black Friday deals myth as just that. In fact, for all the guilt-tripping over “last minute” Christmas gift shopping, the truth is that many items go down in price toward the end of the holiday season, as the initial rush slows. Although it varies from store to store, your chance of buying toys for half off improves every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There are times throughout the year when items are priced far below Black Friday sale prices. Modern technology and software have only made it easier for stores to squeeze every last dollar out of the Holiday Rush. This ensures that items are never priced lower than they need to be to make a sale.

Some stores make about a fifth of their annual sales during the Black Friday rush and the weeks immediately following. This is not the time when a store needs to be slashing prices; rather, this is when they offer sales just sweet enough to give the impression that their store is the better choice than the competition.

Nobody is racing to drop their prices to zero the day after Thanksgiving, no matter what the marketing says. In fact, according to a study by consumer research group Decide Inc., Citizen watch priced at $600 was found priced at nearly $400 on Black Friday, but just $350 in March. A small difference, but it adds up over an entire Christmas shopping list. This tends to be the norm for jewelry and similar items, as those that aren’t bought as gifts tend to simply linger on shelves for months, their prices going farther down and down ever week.

The same study found a pair of “Classic Cardy” Uggs for women priced at around $160 by list price, $135 on Black Friday, and $85 in September and October, an ideal time for fashion items to be on sale. Finally, a Samsung “Professional” 46 inch plasma sold for about $1355 on Black Friday, but just $1159 in October, making a difference of nearly two hundred dollars.

The smartest of smart shoppers do their Christmas shopping all year round, capitalizing on great deals as and when they appear. If you’re expecting Black Friday to be your ace in the hole this year, think again.

Steven Zussino

Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog,