Once the leftover turkey and cranberry sauce has been put away, our thoughts turn to the Black Friday sales. But, are these mega sales worth it?

christmas tree in pioneer square, portland, oregon. After the traditional annual tree lighting ceremony.

It’s billed as the biggest shopping day of the year, but do you really find the best prices at Black Friday sales?

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, people are getting ready to visit with family and friends. They’re making plans to enjoy a day of reflection and being grateful for their many blessings.

That is, until the clock strikes 6 p.m., or maybe even earlier. Then, the holiday, so big and impatient that it can’t even wait it’s turn, overlaps the other. Thoughts quickly turn to Black Friday sales.

It’s considered the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday. Is it really a day of amazing deals? Or is it a marketing plan strategically sprinkled with a few deeply discounted items to jumpstart the spending frenzy?

What’s Your Reason to Shop?

It starts earlier and earlier every year. Last year, 151 million Americans shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.1 Stores offer “huge sales” and people run to get discounted items for holiday gifts or something new for themselves. For some it’s about saving money. For others it’s simply about the thrill of the hunt, and for a few, it’s just about “beating” the competition.

Are You Really Saving Money?

young woman using her digital tablet and credit card to bring joy to the world

If your objective is saving money, Black Friday may not be the sales event that you believe it to be. Not every sale you’ll find will be the biggest bargain of the holiday season. Yes, some will be good, even great deals. You’ll also see a lot of items that are selling at their regular retail price or close to it. Don’t assume that if it’s advertised on Black Friday that it’s a steal.

Erika Adams of Racked.com, a shopping intelligence website, says she’s seen proof that you can find better deals later in the holiday season. Adams notes that Black Friday is just the first of the season’s competitive sales. Each one geared toward moving inventory out the door to get ready for the new year.

Love those door-buster sales? These are deeply discounted items that inevitably attract more customers than the store can possibly satisfy. They’re counting on disappointed customers settling for a similar, not-so-inexpensively-priced item.

Unless you’re able to be one of the first people on line, don’t rush out for a door-buster item. You’ll also need to have enough discipline to leave the store without purchasing a higher-priced item.

Would You Consider Skipping It All Together?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype. With the “rush” to get things done before the holidays, we hurry and buy items because they’re Black Friday bargains.

Why not avoid the chaos? Here are a few things to do instead of battling the crowds, long lines, and spending temptation on Black Friday:

Afro father and little daughter playing together in living room floor by fireplace.

  1. Enjoy Thanksgiving evening. Here are a few fun ideas to do after all of the planning and feasting is done:
    1.  Play board games.
    2. Go to a tree lighting.
    3. Make s’mores in the fireplace.
    4. Or, choose any other relaxing activity. You deserve it!
  2. Start a thoughtful holiday gift-giving list. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding the perfect gift, and it doesn’t have to be expensive!
  3. Begin to decorate for the holiday season. Involve your family … string popcorn, cut paper snowflakes, wrap your front door like a present. Your kids or grandkids will love helping, and the quality time you spend together will be priceless.
  4. Put a plan together. Write it down on paper, so you’re not overwhelmed over the next month. It’ll even show you what you can delegate. It’s no fun feeling panicked. Do a few things each week. Enjoy yourself, your family, and the spirit of the season without pulling out your hair.

What’s It Worth?

Think about what shopping on Black Friday, or Thanksgiving weekend, means to you. Is it about stretching your holiday budget, finding the best deals, or is it purely for the social aspect? Then, decide if it’s more hassle than its worth.

Remember, you can always shop online. You won’t have to fight the crowds. You’re less likely to get caught up in all the frenzy. And, online retailers often have more than two or three of the low-priced priced items in stock.

Whichever you choose, be sure to do your homework. Just because it’s on “sale” doesn’t mean it’s a great price, nor is it a “must have” this holiday season.

Hasty decisions, influenced by pressures of limited quantities and offers that expire at noon, are what derail a well-planned budget. Rest assured there’ll be many deals that fit your holiday spending plan long after Black Friday has come and gone.

1 Sarah Halzack. “151 million people shopped over Black Friday weekend.” Washington Post. Nov. 29, 2015.