Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a certifiable fact; marking down prices for Christmas is an American tradition. Here’s another fact that’s a bit newer; today, those markdowns and bargains come right to you at home so there’s no need to actually go to the store to get them. That’s right, there’s no need to stand outside in the cold with a bunch of strangers, pushing and shoving your way into the store to get “super special deals” because, with an Internet connection and a laptop, PC, smartphone or tablet, you can get them right from the comfort of your own home (and do it all while watching football to boot).
It seems that this year the holiday shopping theme is that Thanksgiving is being “ruined” by panicky retailers who are being forced to deeply discount prices in order to make sure that they capture those elusive shopping dollars that the holidays bring. Indeed, CFO Sharon McCollam of Best Buy grimly warned on Tuesday that “If our competition is in fact more promotional in the fourth quarter, we will be too”, alluding to the fact that they are willing to hurt their gross margins in order to bring in customers.
Frankly, all of this hand wringing may be a bit overblown. The fact is, “Black Friday” is actually a reference to the fact that, normally, between Thanksgiving and Christmas retailers make the most profit of the year and thus are able to keep those profits “in the black”. Indeed, the Friday after Thanksgiving didn’t actually become the busiest shopping day of the entire year until only a mere nine years ago in 2004. Before then, the busiest shopping day of the year was actually the Saturday before Christmas, a day that retailers used to clear their shelves as much as they could before people started coming back in droves after Christmas with their returns. The truth is that rather than being “scared” that they won’t be making any money this year and making a big show of extra discounting, this is actually what retailers do every single year.
Our advice to you, dear readers, is to simply stay home, enjoy your family, nap off that tryptophan and let the Holiday Deals come to you. If you, like most of us, are appalled at the notion of fighting your fellow Americans for “deals” the day after one of our most sacred national holidays or, even worse, the day of that holiday, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t be missing out on excellent deals if you stay home.
The fact is that “Black Friday” is overrated and, with smart phones and tablets opening stores 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, consumers have more selection than ever and a newer, easier and much more convenient way to shop. Even though they might be doing a lot more complaining this year, retailers are still seeing earnings growth because they’re holding down costs and promoting super-low prices, just like they’ve been doing for the better part of the last hundred years. Yes, they are hungry but, let’s face it, retailers are certainly not desperate. What they’re doing is just creating a bit of a “shopping frenzy” in order to stimulate their year-end sales numbers.
The biggest difference this year is that, if you want to stay home and kick back in front of the fire, have a beer and watch some football, you can do it knowing that you will not be missing out on any deals because you can easily get them whenever you like and save gas, and stress, at the same time.
Now that’s what we call a Happy Holiday.