I'm continually amazed at the continued sway Black Friday has over people.
Stores offer Doorbuster deals and one-time-only offers, true, and chaos ensues as shoppers rip, claw and tear their way to big savings.
But to what end?
Any relatively Web-savvy shopper can find the same or better deals online – at any time of the year. Granted, you need to hunt around a bit and these sales generally aren't advertised, but if you know where to look, you can get your hands on the same items that the big-name retailers stock, often at a lower price.
Of course, Web-based retailers have offered up an alternative anyway, called Cyber Monday, to drive sales after people have exhausted themselves on Black Friday. Limited-time offers and deep discounts are the order of the day – but I notice these sales are still less publicized than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Locally based brick-and-mortar businesses might cry foul at the thought of sales going to the Web, but there's a solution to that – get a website and sell online. Doing business online is typically less expensive and if you're selling inventory from national suppliers, you may not have to maintain a physical inventory, as they can drop-ship goods directly to the customer while the retailer gets credit for the sale.
Over the last three years, I've matched or beaten advertised Black Friday deals by shopping online – with electronics probably the easiest to find bargains on, which is good, since they're often the most expensive items on people's shopping lists.
There are caveats. While online retailers are able to offer next-day delivery and other shipping options on certain items, their products are shipped through the same delivery services everyone else uses, so holiday delays still apply – you can't afford to cut things too finely.
Make sure you're buying from a reputable site. If the deal seems too good to be true – iPads for $30, for example, or they force you to jump through hoops to get a particular price, it's probably time to look for another site.
Bottom line is that on Friday, while I watched people on the news shivering outside in the cold as they waited in lines, my Christmas purchasing process took about an hour and involved the total effort of a few mouse clicks here and there.
Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. Email him at [email protected].