I’m so done with holiday sales events. Maybe you should be too.

This is Part One of “5 Days of Holiday Bull$hit: A five-part series on Christmas consumer crap.” Here’s the introduction.

I’m all about saving money, but I think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a Canuck thing called Boxing Day are weird ways to go about it.

Let’s start with Black Friday: Pitch a tent. Line up for hours. Get jostled by creepy crowds. Crash doors. Mad dash. Maybe score one of five “door-crasher” deals. Get trampled. Get more trampled. Get pepper sprayed. Spend money. Save $50? Happy holidays?

Black Friday

Hate the crowds? There’s always the wired world of online retail to snag a shopper.

Cyber Monday: Get online early (only EST will do). Click a deal. Add to shopping cart. Enter a Cyber-specific promo code. FAILED. Enter promo code again. Review cart. Enter credit card info. Update shipping address. Click checkout. Sales item SOLD OUT. Cry. Spill coffee on your PJs, it’s still EST after all. Try shopping again. Fail. Reboot computer. Maybe snag a different dealio? Score some FREE SHIPPING, yay!

I also haven’t forgotten about Boxing Day, celebrated by Canucks across Canada on December 26th every year.

Boxing Day: Buy everything at mostly full price before Christmas. Buy everything again at 70% off the day after Christmas.

As a Canadian, I admit that this American Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday thing is still a pretty new concept up here in Canuckland. As proper and polite *cough* customers, we Canucks have always waited until Boxing Day, our mega sale which runs the day AFTER Christmas, to save big money on holiday stuff. After all, there’s nothing more charmingly Canadian than paying near full price for something the day before the something you want goes on sale. Retailers need to eat too, you know. *cough*

AnyRetroactiveLogic, the American Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales seem like mega good deals in comparison. The Canadian retailers must agree ’cause these sales have arrived in Canada full throttle. I should know — Black Friday and Cybertastic Monday deals started littering my mailbox and landing in my inbox just hours after Halloween. Scary stuff.

Being a blogger mostly interested in saving money you’d think I would’ve practiced pitching my tent and filling my online shopping cart weeks ago, but I’ve resisted the call of the polyester wind-proof dome and the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome for a number of fiscal reasons. Here’s why:

Holiday sales events are brands.

Black Friday isn’t the single day it used to be. The sales extravaganza has morphed from a mere 24 hours of unbridled insanity to a week-long extreme shopping event. Some retailers even started tent lineups and “door-crashing” sales a month ago.

To add some spark to the insanity, several stores have augmented the black event into days with happier, brighter colours. Let’s go with red.

What the heck is “Red Thursday?” Another day to spend, yo.

Want to shop Cyber Monday seven full days after the official date? Home Depot Canada has the extended cyberness covered.

Oh, and some stores have started the Boxing Day extravaganza a few extra weeks early. I’m counting three extra weeks.

Seems like these these holiday sales day events have morphed into a three-month long event. Let’s create a shopping mashup and call the dang thing Cyber Black Boxing Day. Tents are optional.

Bottom Line: Since the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day brands now extend beyond the actual day, do yourself a shopping solid by checking the multi-day sales for the item(s) you really need and comparison shop the prices you’re willing to pay before spending your cash. There’s no sense in busting your butt on a single day event when there’s plenty of time to stop, budget, think, then maybe shop.

When a deal is an overrated dud.

Seeing tent cities sprout from concrete alongside the local Best Buy can make one think the holiday sales events are awesome. Forget it. I’m not trying to blow down your tent with hot air, but many of these so-called sales events are just hype.

Black Friday Meme

Only a precious few snag the “door crasher” items boasted by retailers, while the rest of the peops lining up outside are just get getting crowd crushed.

Price aware shoppers (not the ones standing in long lines) have long noticed that many Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even Boxing Day sale prices are the same “deal” advertised outside of the hyper holiday sales event.

I’ve snagged kids toys, clothing, and even furniture at better than holiday sales event pricing by simply subscribing to retailer newsletter sale blasts, using promotional codes, and price matching. Check out The Definitive Guide: 22 Ways to get a discount on anything for the details.

Asking for a price adjustment when the price you recently paid is higher than a new sale deal works well for snagging savings too. Always keep your receipts!

Bottom Line: The smartest shoppers have a shopping list and research the various price points offered by retailers. Comparison shopping online is just a click away these days, so there’s no excuse for getting duped by a dubious sale or a holiday gimmick.

Duress is bad for shopping stress.

Don’t miss out! Available today only! The list of marketing words used to wiggle you outta your money right this instant are endless.

Heck, even media headlines boast the urgency of the sale.

STOP, BUDGET, THINK, then maybe shop. The world won’t end if you don’t buy “that thing” now. Promise.

Bottom Line: Holiday sales events are orchestrated by super smart marketing mavericks. Learn to decode the distress in the advertising and know what you must buy, stick to your budget, and check competitor prices. You’re not missing out on the hyper sale because the hyper sale never ends. Your money has an end though.

Stuff is not “importante.”

My favorite tweet maybe of all time is about buying “importante” stuff at Walmart.

Of all the important stuff I would have “marked down” as important and lined up for overnight on a Friday I’m guessing a Furby stuffy wouldn’t rank anywhere on my list.

When I was a student I would have lined up overnight to pay less tuition. I’ve lined up to rent an affordable apartment in cities across Canada. Heck, I line up at Costco once a month to feed my family at a fair price. So yeah, I’ve “marked down” a few things in my life as important, but attention Walmart retailers Black Friday is not one of them.

Black Friday

Stuff is not important.

Accumulating stuff is not important.

I know what’s important to me. You know the answer for you too.

Bottom Line: That Furby thing looks like what would happen if you crossed Gizmo (the main mogwai pre-Gremlin in the 1984 movie Gremlins) with a My Little Pony. Basically, don’t feed the Furby a rainbow after midnight. And know what’s really important.

So where am I going with this?

Sales happen daily, monthly, seasonally, and annually. There’s always a deal somewhere and a delusional shopper elsewhere. Don’t be the delusional shopper.

STOP, BUDGET, THINK, then maybe shop.

Also, what’s a Furby?

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Kerry,
    You really made me laugh. At least someone has spoken the truth about all those holiday sales events. I am big on saving money and being a savvy spender, but I don’t believe in getting hyped up about deal frenzy and pitching a tent in front of a retail store. Even though I bought some gifts online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I believe that we can find great deals during other times of the year as long as we look around and do our research. Before these big sales I usually ask myself what is my time worth, and I know that it is worth more than sitting in front of a store for hours and getting trampled afterwards. I prefer to spend it sleeping in my bed rather than a fold up chair wrapped in sleeping bag out in the cold.

  2. Misty December 11th, 2013

    Lol! So true. I did most of my Christmas shopping in October and November so by black Friday I was pretty much done. I tried one cyber Monday sale and had EXACTLY the experience you described. Including spilling the coffee in the pjs!! Two weeks later the same stocking stuffers are actually cheaper now and have free shipping. ?? Cyber Monday??? Haha
    Love the blog. Thank you :)

  3. Ruth Cooke December 11th, 2013

    Great post, Kerry! “Don’t feed the Furby a rainbow after midnight” has to be one of the most awesome tips you’ve ever published.

    I don’t line up for sales, never have. I Christmas shop from a list, usually on a single day a week or two before Christmas, and the gifts are generally under fifty dollars each, ’cause I’m not rich. If I’m really slow, or have to go to more than one mall, it may take two days.

    This year I got a lot of the shopping out of the way at our public library used book sale –the books were new or in like new condition at nowhere near like new prices. (Eg. a like-new coffee table book that my father will love, which can run to well over fifty bucks new, for eight dollars)

    My kids (now in their twenties) were raised to be anti-consumers — they rarely want the latest and greatest. This year, my 25 year old wants to fill out her collection of children’s books and her father wants a hand knitted Doctor Who scarf.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get knitting…

  4. Merlin December 11th, 2013

    Great post!

    I’ve never attended a Boxing Day or Black Friday event in my life. I hate mobs. And I don’t even know what Cyber Monday is.

    I buy things when I need them. I might pay a bit more, but I’d rather that than ‘save’ money on things I don’t need.

  5. Emily-Pemily December 11th, 2013

    Amen, sister!

    We celebrated Black Friday at my house by making brown paper bag popcorn and watching a movie. Will do the same thing for Boxing Day/Week/Month. Will open my credit card bill in January and not be horrified.

    Thanks, Kerry, for being a (delightfully sarcastic) voice of reason/frugal angel during this season of financial binge/regret.

    You are our frugal

  6. Don December 11th, 2013

    Well Kerry you got it right, its nuts and benifits who really? The seller.

    My wife & I were talking about how family life has changed since Sunday shopping has become the norm. 52 less days families are together & the consumerism that has changed the face of society and yes, family – even kids are spending more time at work than with family.

  7. Arwem December 11th, 2013

    Excellent post Kerry!

    The older I get, the more fed up I get with Giftmas.
    What gets me more excited for the holidays is eating, drinking, and being merry with friends and family… not wasting our hard-earned money on crap!

  8. Carah December 11th, 2013

    If a lot of wasteful shoppers figured this out, there wouldn’t be all these crazy merchant “days” to gouge people whom most likely can’t afford it anyway!

  9. Glenn December 11th, 2013

    It is just another day for the stores to suck more after tax dollars from your pockets on STUFF you really do not need.Just like my kids friends are teasing them for not have this or that new this or that. Big waste of money when you can get it next month in the clearance rack at 80% off.Just teach your kids the value of a dollar and they will go a lot further in life and not having all that burden of stuff hanging over there heads and always needing the next shine object they are pushing us to buy .The best way to do that is get rid of T.V. and show them how compounding interest works,and how to help the less fortunate in your community.

  10. Jon Maroni December 11th, 2013

    We buy Christmas presents, but never during the craziness of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. In fact we buy them all throughout the year and that L.A. Times article is right, there are great deals to be had whenever there is a sale. One of the best times is shopping right at the end of a retail season. If someone is looking for winter gear, shop in the summer for last season’s stuff. It’s time to just say NO to all of this.

  11. Lorian Rivers December 11th, 2013

    I could not agree more. Used to be Black Friday. Now its “week before black friday” and “week after cyber monday” and then continues without letup until the day before Christmas. Then starts again on 12/26 for all the items you want to exchange.

    I went thru all the black friday ads and there was NOTHING worth the hassle. $50 off a $500 unit…really….why even bother?

  12. Tricia December 11th, 2013

    Gave up on the Giftmas of Christmas years ago. My kids get money ( for school , or their mortgage ) and any really important people in my life get a ‘piece of ass’, otherwise known as a sponsorship certificate for the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge near Chase BC.
    Thanks again for your outlook, Kerry. Love it!

  13. Anthony December 11th, 2013

    Funny thing is shopping malls are doing anything just to get the money of shoppers. Here in Philippines, SM (the biggest mall in Philippines with the most branches) had a Thanksgiving Sale last November 28. Didn’t know that the Mayflower landed here in the Philippines.

  14. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction December 12th, 2013

    Love the gremlins reference :) The movie scared the crap out of me as a young child.

    I am trying to stay away from all these gimmicks as best as I can. So far, so good!

  15. Kerry December 12th, 2013

    @Alicia @Ruth I like to get my 80s on. :)

  16. Amanda December 12th, 2013

    I love those memes. They are hilarious but so true! I have never understood the madness behind Black Friday. Thanks for sharing with us!

  17. Randy December 12th, 2013

    This post really made me laugh. I’ve never participated in the Black Friday madness and I hope I never will. I’d rather catch that sale when there isn’t a stampede.

  18. Jordan December 12th, 2013

    Great post Kerry! It’s sad how people go crazy over material items. Trampling all over people to save 20 bucks is not worth the hassle.

  19. Joshua Rodriguez December 12th, 2013

    I ended up going to Walmart to buy a few things for dinner not knowing it was Black Friday. I happened to be in a small town so it wasn’t any more packed than on any other day thankfully. Great article!

  20. L December 13th, 2013

    I’m with Merlin, above! When I NEED something, I figure out where I can get it for the best price, go there, purchase, and leave. Haven’t set foot in a Walmart in years — I’d rather pay a little more for less crazy. And knowing the difference between “wants” and “needs” is the best. money. saver. ever.
    Keep up the good fight, Kerry.

  21. Levi @ Wealthnote December 13th, 2013

    It’s just a big bait and switch. People go out thinking they should get good deals because they have been trained to think that Black Friday is THE DAY to save a bunch.

    Not worth it! I have avoided the past two Black Fridays and I hope to avoid the next 50.

  22. Emily December 17th, 2013

    Love the article, and generally agree with the spirit of it. However, I did actually shop in stores on Black Friday. In California, no less. Personally, I HATE shopping. At all times and in all places. But for Black Friday, I think it’s all about timing & attitude. If you’re looking for doorbusters & your expectations are unreasonably high, you’re bound to be disappointed. But if you’re just curious to see the goings-on & possibly score a few good deals, it’s not so bad. My sister in law and I went together & had some bonding time while our husbands took the kids home from the Thanksgiving festivities at my parents’ house & put them to bed. We didn’t camp out. We didn’t even attempt to go to any stores for at least 3-4 hours after they had opened. I had a list (& checked it twice) of the haute items from my family’s wishlists, which I compiled & comparison priced in the “leaked” BF ads ahead of time (nobody asked for a Furby… whew!) Also had a list of ideas for other friends I exchange gifts with. We went to 3 stores. It did take about 30 minutes to get in at one toy store, and another 30 to checkout there. At the other two stores, there was NO waiting to get in or check out. In fact, when I checked out at one… Target, no less, there were only two registrars still open and still NO waiting. It was less busy than your average Tuesday night. This was a little after midnight. (They had opened at 8 pm.) And they gave me a coupon for 20% off ANYTHING good the following week. Used that to buy a piece of furniture I had been eyeing for a while & new bike helmets (which NEVER go on sale) for my kids who are about to outgrow theirs & a few necessities that I would have bought anyway. But I digress. Back to Black Friday. There were more employees milling around than shoppers at 2 of the 3 stores. The employees and shoppers were friendly & in a festive mood. A couple of things I was interested in were sold out or I missed the time cutoff to get the “doorbuster” price. Some things my kids were clamoring for didn’t seem worth it at any price once I tracked them down. I found 2 things later at a price different that was significant enough to make it worth returning the original. At one store, I had used a $10 off coupon for a specific item (a videogame for my son that was the ONLY thing he asked for) & found the item significantly cheaper online the next week, even without the coupon. To my surprise, when I returned the item to the store, they gave me a $10 non-expiring gift card to “make up” for the value of the coupon I had used on it. So overall, I scored some good deals & got about 90% of my seasonal shopping out of the way in one night, and also bought a few toys to donate to needy kids through a drive at my work. For a busy working mom, I definitely thought it was worth it, and it was actually much easier & less hassle than the hype makes it out to be. Now I can use the rest of the month to bake rainbows & wrap presents!

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