[Updated for November, 2017]
Marketing people love an excuse for a sale. Any excuse will do. If “something” is happening, a sale can be built around that “something”.
This time of year the “something” is Christmas, which is an obvious no-brainer for marketers to build sales around.
But not being happy with just “Sales for Christmas”, the marketing world came up with the idea to have Sales within Sales for Christmas, by promoting the busiest retails sales days of the year as being “special days EVERYONE should go shopping on”.
Of course I’m referring to the phenomena of Black Friday and all of it’s offshoots (including CyberMonday)!
Since technology sales are a big part of Black Friday, I thought it might be fun to give you some background on the day and also talk about how you can prepare yourself and find the best technology deals this time of year.
Black Friday Traditions
As you probably know, “Black Friday” is the name that’s given to the day following Thanksgiving in the U.S.
According to Wikipedia, it’s traditionally thought that the name Black Friday originated in the early 1960’s in Philadelphia as a way to describe the “heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic” that would happen the day after Thanksgiving.
But according to Ben Zimmer of Word Routes, researcher Bonnie Taylor-Blake discovered the term was actually coined back in the 1950’s to describe worker absenteeism after Thanksgiving day.
Regardless of it’s origin, it wasn’t until the mid-1970’s that the media starting picking up the term and claimed that it indicated the point in time that many retailers began to turn a profit (were “in the black”). There was actually no real validation of this, but since it made sense to most people, the mythology stuck.
As the term Black Friday gained momentum in the 80’s and 90’s, marketing people (via the media) began to describe the day as the “busiest shopping day of the year“, just to get more folks to participate in the sales. But at that time, the truth was that the Saturday before Christmas was typically the busiest shopping day.
It really wasn’t until 2003, after more and more companies started pointing their advertising dollars to Black Friday Sales, that Black Friday became the busiest shopping day of the year. Of course the busyness of Black Friday is also helped because many companies give their employees the day off, and that for many the day represents the start of the Christmas season.
Finding the Best Deals (Email lists and Apps)
Most of us know that the local Thursday newspaper is always the best source for Black Friday sales ads, and there’s nothing quite like sitting in the easy chair after three helpings of turkey, flipping through all those glorious ad pages.
But by the time the ads come out in paper form, the REALLY savvy shopper already knows the best deals, and has their plan made.
How? Well since the late 1990’s, as another marketing ploy, many of the big retailers have started “leaking” their newspaper ads to the Internet, weeks before they appear in print.
Early on, finding the leaked ads was kind of a “sneaky” thing to do, but today most big companies actually promote you finding their ads and many even send you access to the ads if you sign up on their email list.
For example, this year Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon, and NewEgg sent me Black Friday sales information about three weeks ahead of time. And I’m sure other retailers have done a similar thing.
And if you have a smartphone or tablet, most of the big retail stores (such as Target and Wal-Mart) have their own apps, and for Black Friday will start pushing special deals and previews to those apps.
APP TIP – Go to your App Store and search for “Black Friday 2017” you’ll see 5 or 6 apps that were specifically created for Black Friday. Most of them work the same way… giving you the ability to search a wide range of Black Friday store ads all at once, for a specific product. Some even allow you to create your own shopping lists. And remember, once Black Friday is over, you can simply delete the app from your smartphone or tablet!
Black Friday Ad Sites
Although it’s great having apps for your favorite stores, there’s still nothing quite like browsing their paper ads. The great thing is, you can see all those ads listed on a number of Black Friday Ad Sites. Here are some of the most popular…
As I’ve already mentioned, since 2003, Black Friday really has been the largest retail day of the year (except for in 2004 when it was #2). Still, there are other days during the Christmas shopping season which come close to rivaling Black Friday, and because of that, many marketeers have come up with additional days they use to promote holiday sales.
Here are a few of the most popular:
- Cyber Monday – This is the Monday immediately after Black Friday, which was created in hopes of persuading people to shop online. The term was first used in 2005 in a press release from Shop.org, a web site run by the National Retail Federation. The marketers based their excitement about Cyber Monday because that day had been one of the biggest selling days of 2004. The press and concept seemed to have caught on with the public, and in 2011 the online tracking company comScore reported sales in excess of $1.2 billion dollars, and in 2013 sales grew to a record $2.29 billon! In 2015 the number rose to $3.07 billion, and last year (2016) it set a new record at $3.45 billion!This year (2017) many are predicting that Cyber Monday will actually become “Cyber Weeks”, with online sales starting about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, and continuing the entire week after! According to a Forbes article, consumer spending over the Black Friday weekend and into Cyber Monday is expected to increase by 47% from last year, with the average consumer planning to spend about $743.
- Small Business Saturday – This term refers to the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, and was created by American Express in 2010. On that Saturday, American Express encourages shoppers to visit their local “brick and mortar” small retail stores. It’s pretty doubtful whether this term will catch on to the extent that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have, but many small businesses use it as a great excuse to market themselves and promote sales.
- Green Monday – This last term was coined by eBay to promote it’s biggest sales day in December, which is normally the 2nd Monday of December (in 2016 it is Monday, December 11th). comScore specifically defines it as the Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas, when a lot of folks do more “last minute” shopping. comScore reported sales of $854 million on that Monday in 2009, over $1.1 billion in 2011, $1.4 billion in 2013, and $1.6 billion in 2014. And although eBay uses it for marketing, other businesses have picked it up, giving them yet another day to promote sales during the Christmas season.
- Black November – And don’t forget the entire month of November! Yes, many stores now promote “Black November” and have daily or weekly sales deals all throughout the month. The first place I saw this was with NewEgg, the online computer technology giant. But this year, in 2015, Amazon.com again started sales on November 1st, just as they did last year, and even local brick and mortar stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy jumped into the mix, starting their sales in early November.
The truth is you tend to get the best deals AFTER the holidays when stores are selling off their excess and making room for their incoming Spring/Summer merchandise. Of course the selection can be pretty limited, but if you’re shopping for something that isn’t the “hot item of the year”, waiting until December 26th might get you a better deal.
Still, if you are diligent and carefully shop around, you CAN find some great deals on the big holiday shopping days. And I’m not just talking about those those “door-buster” deals where the store only has 5 on the shelf with 500 people waiting in line for them.
I’m talking about good discounts on items that marketing folks know will draw you into the store, where they can perhaps sell you something else that is NOT such a good deal.
I think you know what I mean.
From a computer technology viewpoint, there are a few items I always look for in the Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) ads. The great thing about these technology items is that no one will be knocking down the door to get them, and you can often even find them in stock later in the day on Friday or even on Saturday.
- Anti-Virus programs – One of my yearly traditions is to purchase a new anti-virus program every year on Black Friday, instead of paying for the “upgrade” or “renewal” which is always a lot more expensive. Last year I got 3-user copy of BitDefender for $19.95 at Office Depot.
- Image Editors – Every year, about September, Adobe comes out with a new version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, which I think is one of the best image editors out there. It normally retails for $99, but often on Black Friday you can get it for as little as $49.
- Flash Drives – Stores love to put these things on sale, so Black Friday is the perfect time to add a larger capacity flash drive into your storage arsenal.
- Portable Hard Drives – Perfect for backups, there are always portable hard drives on sale for Black Friday.
- Monitors – Considering it’s something you probably sit and stare at all day, doesn’t it make sense to have a computer monitor that’s a decent size for you to see? They always have good sales on larger monitors (21, 22, 24 inch) on Black Friday, making it a great time to pick one up.
- Wireless mice – OK, you only need one mouse at a time, but I’m always amazed at how often mice wear out. Why not pick up a wireless mouse for dirt-cheap on Black Friday, and have it on-hand as a backup?
- Headphones – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but with the smartphone, tablet, and mobile device boom, higher-end headphones have suddenly reemerged as a big sale item. Do more expensive headphones (or ear buds sound better? Yup, they typically do. And Black Friday is a great time to look for those higher-priced versions on sale.
- Low-Priced Windows Laptop and Desktop Computers – The price of laptop computers has consistently dropped the last 3 years, and even with the release of Windows 10 this past July, most retailers are discounting notebooks more than ever. Chromebooks and of course tablets such as iPads and the latest Microsoft Surface tablet are also putting pressure on laptop sales, helping to drop the price even farther.
- Older Smartphones and Tablets – Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and other makers of smartphones and tablets have come out with a slew of new items this fall, but the older versions are still around, and Black Friday will be a good time for retailers to try and dump off those old versions, and at the same time, draw you into the store.
- HDTVs – Over the past few years, as the newness of plasma, LCD, and LED high-def, smart televisions has worn off, prices have been plummeting, which makes those televisions the perfect technology device to draw you into a store. They have always been good for “door-busters”, but I think this year they are so plentiful that you’ll even see good deals left later in the day. And pressuring the prices even more is the advent of newer 4K televisions which have 4x the resolution of current HD TV.
Finally, for other technology ideas, I also like to look at the Black Friday Deal Predictions, where they show you the possible price deals you might get on all the current, hot, technology products.
Where to Shop Offline and Online
You probably already know this, but the best places to look for the technology sales include the local office supply stores (Office Depot/Office Max), and Best Buy (and if you live in Omaha, where I live, the Nebraska Furniture Mart).
But don’t forget all those online stores! My favorites for technology products are Amazon, NewEgg, and TigerDirect. You might even find good deals up on eBay, since many eBay Sellers now look to Black Friday and Cyber Monday as their best sale days.
Ok, what are you waiting for? With all the links I’ve given you here, you’d better get started if you plan on having all that research done by Black Friday. So Good Luck!!!
Oh, and if you do run into some monster deals, I’d love to hear about them. Just leave me a comment below!